Following CWA Lynn Fury’s successful National League campaign they have been hit by the news that they will lose two of their most influential players, writes Andy Milbourne.
Eivydas Aleksa, recently presented with the Fury Most Valuable Player Award, joins Canada bound Richard Milbourne, the team’s Defensive Player of the Year, in moving on to pastures new.
These two have been the key players in the recent re-emergence of Fury as a respected force in National League basketball. Milbourne has been a Fury player over nine years, joining from Team Bath when Fury played in the National League First Division. He started regularly for two years before his studies took him off to the University of Worcester.
Ironically, that is where Aleksa is headed in September when he begins a course at the University. Worcester has a tremendous basketball programme and it will certainly challenge Aleksa to step up his performance as he seeks success at a higher level.
When he returned Fury had suffered a slump in their fortunes and were in the process of re-grouping in Division Four.
He captained a young side which included the talented but inexperienced Aleksa and provided excellent leadership as Fury found life a struggle against more established opposition.
There was never any doubt about the talent and future potential of Aleksa and whilst Fury may have struggled to impose themselves on the league, the court time he and other young players received only served to accelerate their progress.
Things changed with the decision to recruit players from the East European community resident around the Lynn area. This transformed the team from one of potential to one which could realistically challenge at the top end of the table.
Whilst their roles changed Aleksa and Milbourne were the two constants in the Fury team; their speed and athleticism a perfect complement to the power and shooting ability which others brought to the side. Equally important, both had a real winner’s mentality which supported the Fury’s never-say-die attitude when contests seemed to be going against them.
Both made important contributions to Fury’s play-off run with one noted commentator claiming Aleksa was his favourite player of the whole National League Finals weekend and commenting on his drive and will to win. The same commentator also picked out Milbourne’s leadership and noted that he was a player any coach would want on their team.
Coach James Bamfield will have to give serious consideration about how to fill the gap these two will leave.
Nevertheless, one of the hugely important aspects of Fury’s recent development is that it has not all been about the National League side. They currently have a talented group of young players coming through the ranks.
Luke Huggins graduated to the first team in the second half of the season and during the play-offs he made some important contributions.