“I think next year, we won’t be the only team from Winnipeg here,” said Michael Francisco. “I’m pretty sure of it.”
This is the first year that Refresh Basketball is participating in Bballnationals. So far, it’s been quite the experience for the Winnipeg-based team.
“I’m really liking the way that the tournament is organized, the venues are great,” said Francisco, the team’s head coach. “I’m looking forward to being here next year and I’m telling you more and more people are going to be here.”
Francisco, who’s involved in growing the game back in Winnipeg, wants his city to be able to showcase more of their talent.
“Basketball in Winnipeg is growing, I’m so happy to be a part of the growth,” said Francisco. “There’s so much talent in the city, so many good clubs so many good coaches, good tournaments, the infrastructure for basketball – it’s there, and it keeps getting better and better.”
After their third game at Bballnationals, Coach Francisco takes his boys aside to debrief the game. The meeting goes on for several minutes as if they boys just suffered a difficult loss. It’s the opposite, actually; Refresh Basketball just earned a hard-fought 76-47 win over Dynamite Basketball. The reason the debrief is taking so long is probably because Refresh’s 7-man Under-14 squad was put together just for Bballnationals, but so far their getting better and better.
“This is actually my teams first time playing together, it’s their third game together,” said Francisco. “It’s been a learning experience; they’re following directions really well and it shows in every game. I’m really proud of them.”
Even though, his boys are just starting to develop chemistry, Francisco wants his team to take a team-first approach to everything. “Team defence, team offence, it’s very team-based,” he said of his team’s playing style.
There is one player on Francisco’s squad that he is very familiar with: his son, Tyson.
“I like how our team has to all step up,” said Tyson about his games at Bballnationals so far. “It’s not all shining on one player,” he said, reiterating his dad’s team first mentality.
As far as participating in the tournament, Tyson’s first Bballnationals has created quite the impression on him. “I really like this tournament,” said Tyson, “I can say it’s one of the best in my books.”
For a first-time participant, Tyson got the chance to make the most of his Bballnationals experience as a participant in the first day’s Shooting Contest and his shoes were even featured on the Shooting Contest’s 10 best shoes list. “My dad got them for me,” said Tyson of his Kyrie Flytraps.
It’s clear that the father-son connect is working out in the shoe department but how is it translating into a coach-player dynamic?
“Well, I like it because I feel more comfortable,” said Tyson about being coached by his dad. “He puts lots of pressure on me, but I still have lots of fun being coached by him.”
“it’s a different dynamic, because I’ve got to learn how to balance the father and coaching aspect of it,” said Michael Francisco, “and he’s got to learn how to balance the son and the player aspect of it.”
“I do my best to make sure he gets what he deserves. You’ve got balance favouritism too; as much as I want to see him succeed and shine, he’s not the only player on the team.”
The importance of family to the Francisco’s and Refresh Basketball in general is apparent when you realize that the players’ parents have come along as well, effectively making it a Refresh Basketball family trip.
“I have family out here, and they’re taking care of us really well, and so do other parents, they’ve got some family out here,” said Francisco.
“For the most part, the parents like to come and enjoy so, they’re all pretty stoked too,” said Francisco about the parents coming along for the trip. “These last two games we’ve been pretty successful, so the parents are happy.”
Refresh Basketball have been able to win their last two games, undoubtedly building some excitement among those around the team. But for Michael Francisco, there’s a lot more to be excited about.
“It’s an exciting time for basketball, in my opinion. I wish it was like that when I was growing up, because I’d probably be in the NBA or something,” he said, laughing. “But you know what, all those opportunities I plan to open as many doors as I can and present them to best of my ability to the kids that run with me and the kids that we encounter in the program.”
Michael Francisco is a family man. Coming to BC for Bballnationals gave him the chance to see some of his family not living in Winnipeg. But even if he didn’t have any family here to visit, he would’ve still had family with him at the Langley Events Centre: his Refresh Basketball family.
By: Mohak Sood