Willis Mackey Jr. remaining optimistic after difficult start in French League

OPTIMISTIC – Despite slow start in the National Men’s One (NM1) Division of the French Basketball League opener, Grand Bahama native Willis Mackey Jr., (center) is optimistic about the season moving forward.

The first two contests of Willis Mackey Jr.’s first season with the JSA Bordeaux Metropole Basket team did not go as expected but there is room for optimism. 

The 6’8’’ Grand Bahamian forward and company dropped their first two games of the season in the National Men’s One (NM1) Division of the French Basketball League. Most recently on October 10, JSA Bordeaux lost to Les Sables Vendee, 97-80. 

In 23 minutes of action, Mackey Jr. scored six points and dished out two assists. 

In the season opener on October 6, JSA Bordeaux fell to CEP Lorient by a final score of 80-56. The former Spanish Eurobasket Association (EBA) standout finished with four points, four rebounds, one block and one steal on the defensive end. 

JSA Bordeaux is set to take on Vendee Challans this coming Friday, October 16. 

Mackey Jr. disclosed in his most recent blog via YouTube that the team is currently awaiting other players to join the team. However, the team’s biggest challenge at the moment is the lack of opportunities to practice. 

The city of Bordeaux is faced with restrictions, which include the closing of sporting facilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But Mackey Jr. said the team is doing everything it can to form the chemistry needed moving forward in the season. 

“Our team is the only one in our league that can’t practice because our city shut down our arena, gyms, everything for professional sports in the city. 

“So going into this game (season opener) we had no practice. We left for Lorient one day early so we could prepare for that team. That was our only practice in two weeks. Other than that we had training which included some therapy, but no basketball. 

“I’m only saying this once because I don’t want that to be an excuse moving forward. But we went up against a good team and we knew they were a good team. Clearly a team with a lot of chemistry and history. 

“I think we just ran out of gas. We started the game off really good with a lot of energy and focus. We had the lead going into halftime but in the third quarter they (CEP Lorient) had a lot of energy and a lot of depth. They outscored us, I think, 37-5 in that quarter.”

Nonetheless, Mackey felt he and his team communicated well and said it’s a matter of learning how to “finish games.”

He further disclosed that JSA requested to have the first two games postponed but the League denied that request. 

As for his performance, he was understandably frustrated but expressed that he’s handling the situation gracefully.

“I was just upset with myself because I just didn’t play well. When I don’t play well it affects me in a lot of ways but I’m trying to be better in that regard and not let it control me so much. It wasn’t a good day but there were some lessons we learned. 

“I think when we get everyone we can really make some noise and I just have to play better.”

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