Thursday, 24 September 2009

Tigers claw back from brink

It has not been the smoothest of summers for Everton Tigers despite their emergence as one the BBL's super-clubs last term.

There was the departure of chairman, and behind-the-scenes-fixer, Gary Townsend - poached away from Goodison - where he headed community programmes - to be part of the revival at Notts County along side Sven Goran Eriksson.

In tandem, doubts arose over the continued backing and benevolence of Everton FC, support that will - for now - continue.

A new chair, Liverpool-based PR executive, Martyn Best has been installed with a new board coming together in his wake. The sole outstanding manoeuvre has been to put a team together on the court, a task which coach Tony Garbelotto admits has been a challenge as the new campaign dawns.

"Gary was the driving force behind everything so when he was headhunted to go elsewhere, it did cause some problems internally because he is so integral to what we do," concedes the Great Britain assistant. "There were some scary moments. But it's now definitely business as usual."

With Everton slated to begin their challenge on October 3 with a trip to Leicester, you sense Garbelotto is relieved for the additional time to bring his new-look side together - with a few last minute deals in the pipeline. Talk of the Tigers being a big-budget team can probably be dropped. However, as elsewhere this summer, bargains are to be had for those who have put in the time to scout and survey.

Steven Rush, a point guard who learnt his trade at UNC A&T State, will be handed the reigns left vacant by the retirement of Richard Midgley. The 5'11" playmaker spent last term in the Bundesliga but arrives on Merseyside on the recommendation of GB chief Chris Finch.

"I saw him a couple of times and I knew I wanted more scoring at that position," Garbelotto admitted. "He definitely fitted the bill."

More intriguingly, Crewe-born forward Andy Thomson has returned to his roots after two years in the Spanish lower leagues. A coup, states the ex-London and Newcastle coach, who has tabbed the 2.05m former Manchester junior for his starting line-up.

"He is going to be a good player. He's multi-skilled, he has a high basketball IQ and he shoots well. I don't want to put too much pressure on him but he may even be an outside bet for a GB place."

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