With the country of France currently under a one-month lockdown, the French Basketball League has been forced to undergo it’s second stoppage of play for the season.
Willis Mackey Jr. and the JSA Bordeaux Basket Team (2-4) managed to win their second game of the season back on October 27 against Toulouse BC, 76-67 before the French government levied the lockdown due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Nonetheless, Mackey disclosed that teams have been allowed to practice throughout the duration of the lockdown.
As he spoke in brief with The Freeport News, the 6’8’’ forward shared that the stoppage of play is expected to last six weeks, and there is no exact word on if the season will be shortened to a degree.
“At this moment the only thing that I know is that for a minimum of six weeks, the season has been paused. The league made the decision based on the fact that because of the nationwide lockdown, we are not able to play with fans in attendance.
“Many clubs didn’t like this option because it interfered with their financial situations. Some clubs simply couldn’t afford to carry on without their fans and sponsors. For this moment, they hope to return to play in the middle of December, with a percentage of fans being able to attend at least.
“I’m sure that during this time, the league is trying to establish a proper way to return to play, and it could involve shortening the season,” he stated.
The JSA Bordeaux team has had its challenges from the beginning of the season. Some players arrived late in the City of Bordeaux, which hindered the team building its chemistry through training camp.
Nevertheless, Mackey’s first season playing in the National Men’s One (NM1) Division has been rewarding so far. He views it as, “a step in the right direction,” in elevating to higher league levels.
“At the time of the shutdown, we had just won our second game of the season, after having a bit of a rough start. It has been a challenge for us to find our rhythm due to the pandemic, players not being able to arrive in Bordeaux on time, and other issues and inconveniences caused.
“It’s been really nice playing here so far. It’s a well-organized league, and definitely a step in the right direction of getting to my ultimate goal of playing at the highest levels of European basketball. The league is extremely competitive, with many players looking to get to that Pro B & Pro A level of French Basketball. Every game is a fight, each team is capable of winning every night, which makes for many tough battles.
“The main thing I’ve learned, is based around the level of basketball and competition, I will be moving forward. I’m a competitor, and I love to compete, so moving forward I want to be able to go up against the best. I feel like this league will provide that opportunity for me to show off what I can do on the court. I’m confident that this will happen in time.”
On the season, Mackey has averaged 9.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.
He scored a season high of 17 points to help lead JSA to their first victory of the season after they defeated Vendee Challans, 99-78 on October 16.