The WBBL’s London Lions are already loaded with some of the game’s very best British talent, but that didn’t stop them adding another homegrown star to the roster last month in acquiring Shequila Joseph.
After successful stints suiting up for some of the continent’s top teams, Joseph has come home to join Mark Clark’s Lions and is getting ready for her first major final for the club this weekend, where many GB internationals will take to the court in the BBL and WBBL Trophy Finals in Glasgow.
Discussing her signing with the Lions and looking to the future with GB, Joseph said: “I started at Barking Abbey when I was in Year Nine, and Mark was my Coach then, so I’ve always had a good bond with him.
“I know a lot of the girls on the Lions team having played with or against them – or in the case of Azania (Stewart) and Jo (Leedham-Warner), I grew up watching them play!
“I’ve always had a strong connection with the Lions. Throughout my five years playing professionally abroad, Mark would be in contact and checking up on me and when my season in Europe would finish – sometimes in February or March – I would come home and train with the Lions.
“My family and friends have always asked me why I don’t just play for London, and the opportunity came at the right time this year for me to join. I’ve been away for 10 years between college and playing professionally abroad, so I wanted to come home and I’m glad I’ve taken this opportunity.”
“I want to be part of this team making history”
The Lions have already won one piece of silverware this season and made a huge impact on the continent as they’ve pulled out some major performances in the FIBA EuroCup.
The WBBL Trophy Final awaits this weekend, where the Lions will face the Sevenoaks Suns – both undefeated in the Championship this season and featuring a plethora of GB stars between them – with Joseph looking forward to her first final for the club.
“It is very special to be able to help lift and promote my hometown team, for sure. It is such an honour to be able to play with these women and to have so many of us back in the UK playing in a league that is really improving so much all the time. I want to be a part of this team making history.
“I’ve played in five other countries – Italy, Iceland, Spain, Germany and Hungary – and the level of competition where we are now isn’t far off to those other leagues.
“The atmosphere in Birmingham for the WBBL Cup Final was crazy and, although it was before I had signed, it made me feel like I belonged in this league with this team, and the whole occasion made me want to come home, and now I’m about to play in my first final for the team – I can’t wait!”
“A new group coming through and playing the GB way”
A part of Head Coach Chema Buceta’s Women’s squad in the recent November window, Joseph reflects on the excitement of that camp as the group welcomed a number of young players into the team and gave debuts to some as well.
She discussed the previous window and the experience of it, as well as what it has meant to line up for GB in the 3×3 game alongside some of the nation’s all-time greats.
“It is so exciting to have the next generation coming through,” she said. “I’m not that young anymore but I feel like I am one of the younger players and I’m with that group of the likes of Holly Winterburn and others that are coming through to be the next generation. Now is the time to bring us through.
“November was tough and we didn’t get the results we wanted, but we have to start from somewhere and there were a lot of encouraging signs that are really exciting for us to be able to build on as a team in the future, with a new group coming through and playing the GB way.
“I’ve also really enjoyed the 3×3 experience. It is a faster game that is very fun and really showcases a player’s skill. One of my favourite things was also being able to play with Chantelle Handy and Temi Fagbenle, who are two veterans that I’ve not really had a chance to play with before, so that whole experience was really special.”
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