Iberconsa Amfiv Vigo has recently announced the dual signings of current U23 World Champions, Lewis Edwards and Sam Mack following their departures from CWBA – Coventry Wheelchair Basketball Academy. The two spoke with Rollt’s Dylan Cummings about the excitement of playing in the FEDDF Division de Honour next season.
Why did you choose to move to Iberconsa Amfiv Vigo next season?
Lewis: “I decided to sign for Vigo because they have given me a great opportunity to continue my development as a player; in arguably the toughest league in the world. An opportunity I am really excited for. I have also heard nothing but good things about the club from former players like Abdi Jama. I am looking forward to getting out there and meeting my new teammates!”
Sam: “Vigo has given me the opportunity to play in one of the best leagues in the world, against some of the best players.”
How do you intend to fit into the team?
Lewis: “I am someone that will always put the team first and I will bring a lot of energy and hard work to the squad. I will try to be a ‘sponge’ so to speak, I want to learn as much as I can from the players and coaches at Vigo so I can help achieve our goals for the upcoming season.”
Sam: “As it’s my first season abroad, I am going out wanting to get better as a player and make the team better. So, I will play whatever role is needed to give us the best chance to win.”
What new challenges do you think you will face in the Division de Honour?
Lewis: “Firstly, it’s pretty well known that the Division de Honour is the most competitive league around, there is no easy games and you really have to be at the races for each game in order to compete. I am looking forward to playing games week in week out with and against some of the best players in the world. It is definitely a challenge that I am excited for and I am chomping at the bit to get going.”
Sam: “The biggest challenge initially will be adjusting to the tough schedule. Playing high level games every week will be tough but an exciting prospect.”
Last season, you played in the British Premier League for Coventry, why did you choose to play for this up and coming club, compared to an arguably more prestigious club like OWLS or Steelers?
Lewis: “For me a part of the answer is in the question – Coventry are an up and coming club and I really wanted to be a part of that. I got to spend a season playing with some really close friends which was great and last season was my most enjoyable to date. Both Sheffield Steelers and The OWLS are huge clubs which I have massive respect for. They have dominated the British league for years, but I thought it was an exciting challenge to be a part of a super young Coventry team to try and challenge the giants of British basketball.”
Sam: “Playing for Vigo will be the complete change of lifestyle I want. Aside from living in a different country, which is exciting in itself, Vigo will allow me to play against great talent from around the world whilst getting to experience the life of a professional athlete.”
How do you think the styles of play will differ between Coventry and Vigo?
Lewis: “I think I will get more of an idea once I arrive in Spain and get working with the team.”
Sam: “It will be a lot faster and tougher. Vigo’s style of play seems to be set around its forwards which is different to how we played at Coventry with a more mid to low pointer focus, which again will set new challenges.”
The Division de Honour will be a lot more competitive than the British league; how do you think this will benefit you personally?
Lewis: “I know that it’s going to benefit me a lot. It’s going to be a challenge for sure but as I said before I am super excited, and I think it’s an experience I need to develop as a player and to keep progressing as a person.”
Sam: “This is what I need to progress my development. Each game will push me to be the best player I can be. Knowing that if I don’t put 100% effort in it won’t be enough to compete at the highest level.”
What are your goals for next season?
Lewis: “To continue developing as a player under different circumstances. I am in a great position to learn from some experienced players and coaches at Vigo. Living in Spain, experiencing a different culture will also me to also develop as a person.”
Sam: “To use the skills I have been working on during the last couple of years of centralisation as well as to gain experience from playing in high-level games regularly.”
What do you think you need to do to break into the GB final 12?
Lewis: “Firstly – it’s never going to be remotely easy breaking into the world’s best team (laughs). I am usually fairly tough on myself but the more I reflect on the last year, the more I know that I have made some big steps forward. I think this upcoming year is huge – the experience of playing week in week out against top teams, which are made up of plenty of GB players, will be massively beneficial but something I will need to adapt to quickly. In terms of breaking into the 12, I need to continue the progress I have made over the past year and combine it with the experience that I will gain from playing in Spain. I will take all of this into the GB camps and see how far it takes me. I have had a niggling injury as well this year, so I also need to make sure I stay healthy.”
Sam: “The 2-pointer position is one of the hardest to break into at the moment as we some of the most diverse and strongest 2-point players in the world. So, I will need to focus on improving what I do so I can offer the team something different. I need to continue to work on my shot and get it to where I am a threat from all around the court as well as improving my co-ordination and ball handling skills.”
How has the GB centralised programme benefitted you personally over the last year?
Lewis: “Being part of the GB centralised programme has been massive for me this year. Being able to work with the GB coaches, Haj Bhania and Steve Caine day in day out was really good for me. I learnt a lot of different things from them both in the group sessions but also the individual sessions which I will take forward with me. We had a consistently motivated group as well, so we were training virtually every day with the right mix of banter and hard work.”
Sam: “It’s given me the chance to get 1-to-1 sessions from the best coaches, as well as train with the lads that force you to get better every day. Without the centralised programme I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Pete Finbow has been a very influential coach on both of your careers, what’s the best thing you learned from him?
Lewis: “I am really lucky to have been coached by Pete Finbow, I have learnt so much from him, it would be hard for me to pick out an individual thing. He has had so much experience in this sport, so listening to what he has been through in the game gives me extra motivation. I get on with him really well off the court as well, but I think he knows me really well and knows exactly what to say to me at any moment. He can give me one-word advice and it can completely change my mindset. He definitely played a big part in helping me develop my confidence coming through the GB junior team, even now he see’s things in my game that I don’t see until he points them out.”
Sam: “Aside from forcing me to wear contact lenses, he has taught me to believe in myself and play with confidence which is something I have always struggled with.”
How do you think Spanish culture will differ from British culture?
Lewis: “I won’t know for sure until I have been out in Vigo for a little while, but I am looking forward to experiencing the differences in culture – it’s something that will definitely be good for me as a person. The obvious one for now though will be siestas.”
Sam: “I guess I will have to wait and see when I am out there, but I am definitely looking forward to having a siesta every day.”
How would you describe your style of play?
Lewis: “Dynamic and direct. I am quick and explosive and like to use this in both offence and defence. I have always had a high work rate as well.”
Sam: “I have always been a hustler. Shooting had never been my strong point, so I have tried to make up for it by racking up steals.”
Has anyone specifically influenced you to play the way you do?
Lewis: “I don’t think one player in particular has, but I do watch a lot of game footage and like to take snippets from various players’ games to add into mine.”
Sam: “I wouldn’t say one person has in particular. I have always played the way I have, and it wouldn’t feel right to change that. It’s more aspects of other guys that I try and be like such as Simon Brown’s doggedness on defence.”
What piece of advice has stuck with you throughout your career?
Lewis: “It’s probably quite cliché but my P.E teacher from secondary school said to me that: ‘Hard work is the fundamental of success’.”
Sam: “’Once you’ve taken a shot, you can’t change the outcome so there’s no point worrying about it.’ I have always got in my own head if I missed a few shots and this piece of advice reminds me that it doesn’t matter if I have missed 10 in a row, it’s the next one that I hit that matters.”
If you could do a training session with three other players from anywhere in the world male or female to improve your game, who would they be and why?
Lewis: “I have been lucky enough to train with the best players in the world this year. It would be great to have a session with the two players below and learn from the best. Patrick Anderson; his fundamentals are so fluid, and he makes the game look effortless. Dirk Passiwan; he has such a quick shooting release and quick hands.”
Sam: “Patrick Anderson; probably everyone’s first pick as his ball and chair control is out of this world. Pete Finbow; because every time I have a session with him, I learn something new. Simon Brown; defensively I feel I could learn a lot from what he does as a 2-pointer.”
Thanks for your time boys!
Rollt. would like to thank Lewis Edwards and Sam Mack for the interview.
Lewis Edwards Profile
Date of Birth: 06/07/1998 (aged 21)
Hometown: Littlehampton, West Sussex
Started playing: 2014
Disability: Neurogenic Arthrogryposis
Future Club: Iberconsa Amfiv Vigo, ESP (starting September 2019)
_Tornados, GBR (2014-17, 2018)
_Hannover United, GER (2017)
_CWBA, GBR (2018-19)
_2017 U23 World Champion – Toronto, Canada
Sam Mack Profile
Date of Birth: 03/01/1998 (aged 21)
Hometown: Norwich, Norfolk
Started playing: 2009
Disability: Spina Bifida
Future Club: Iberconsa Amfiv Vigo, ESP (starting September 2019)
_Norwich Lowriders, GBR (2009-16)
_CWBA, GBR (2016-19)
_2017 U23 World Champion – Toronto, Canada
Interview: Dylan Cummings | Photos: Nick Brown / www.seenandcaptured.com