Two weeks ago, myself and my good friend and coach Harry Smith flew out to Hamburg, Germany. Attending the Champions League Final 4 whilst volunteering for IWBF. This article is designed to give a personal insight into our journey.
We started our journey on the Thursday prior to the event where we travelled from Worcester to London Gatwick Airport via Reading on the train. The train journey went smoothly, and we safely arrived at Gatwick. We proceeded to check-in to the hotel around the corner from the North Terminal and get an early night’s sleep ready for our flight in the morning. We got to the airport within plenty of time and boarded our flight safely. The flight didn’t take as long as we expected as we landed in Hamburg after an hour and twenty minutes. Once at the airport, we got the metro train to Wilhelmsburg via the central station, I was a bit nervous on the journey, but we managed it okay. We got a taxi from Wilhelmsburg station to our Holiday Inn hotel and chilled out for a bit before the games.
During this ‘chill out’ time I set up the IWBF Twitter and Instagram accounts on my phone as part of my job as a volunteer it meant I was lucky enough to update IWBF’s social media over the weekend. Once I had done this, we headed back to Wilhelmsburg and entered the edel-optics.de Arena, the World Championships 2018 venue.
When we entered the venue, the first thing we did was update the Instagram story. We waited for the first game between CD Ilunion and Unipol Sai Briantea84 Cantu to begin. For the majority of the game the scores were even. As part of my job as a volunteer I had to tweet the scores for every quarter and regularly update the Instagram story. It was amazing to see GB internationals Terry Bywater and Ian Sagar go basket-for-basket. As well as witnessing the Australian powerhouse that is Bill Latham and the insane 3-point shooting percentage of Carlos Esteche. I had never seen basketball played at such a high level live before. Ilunion came away with the win, 71-64. After the game, I secured interviews with Bywater and Latham which you can read on the IWBF website.
The second game saw the two German teams, RSB Thuringia Bulls and RSV Lahn-Dill battle it out for the last place in the final. While this game wasn’t as close as the last one, I was in awe seeing players like Bulls’ Matt Scott, Jake Williams and Alexander Halouski go on a tear whilst guys like Brian Bell, Mike Paye and Thomas Bohme try and reduce the deficit. Thuringia got the win, 85-47.
Myself and Harry were both exhausted for the day’s travelling so decided to have a lie-in in the morning. When we got up we headed back to Wilhelmsburg and had lunch at a local pizzeria. After lunch we explored the sights of Wilhelmburg in the boiling heat. Whilst exploring we bumped into GB Men’s head coach Haj Bhania and had a brief chat with him. We headed back to the venue an hour before tip-off and made sure we updated the Instagram story.
The first game of day two was a battle between Briantea84 and Lahn-Dill which was yet again another closely fought content for the first half. This was until Cantu pulled the lead away from Lahn-Dill in the later stages, claiming 3rd place with a 72-64 win. Post-match I spoke with Brian Bell which is available on the IWBF website.
It was now time for the final which pitted defending champions CD Ilunion against Thuringia Bulls. In the first quarter the Spanish side let the nerves of defending their championship get to them. The Bulls (led by top scorer Matt Scott) had a nine-point lead on them in the first quarter. Ilunion’s best quarter occurred just before halftime, through the likes of Terry Bywater they kept the deficit within 10 points (35-25.) However, in the second half the Bulls forged ahead by massively outscoring the opposition which ended in a 74-39 victory for the German team. After he and his teammates won the Champions League trophy, I interviewed Matt Scott about the game which is on the IWBF website.
For the medal ceremony me and Harry broadcast a live video on the Instagram story for everyone to see the Bulls lift up the trophy and I also tweeted out who received All-Star 5 honours.
Post-tournament myself and Harry were lucky enough to be invited out for a drink with GB Women’s coaches Miles Thompson and Dan Price as we sat and reminisced about the competition we had just witnessed. After this, me and Harry got a taxi back to the hotel and I signed off the accounts, thanking IWBF for an amazing weekend.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my long weekend in Hamburg and would go back in a heartbeat. I’m so thankful that I got to spend a week in a beautiful city watching the best sport in the world alongside great company like Harry. Thanks for coming along on the journey with me mate.
IWBF Champions League Round-Up: https://iwbf.org/2018/05/08/germanys-rsb-thuringia-bulls-crowned-champions-of-europe/
You can follow me on Twitter: @DylanOnWheels