The BBC Tees radio studio was the destination for the Teesside Lions unveiling of two high profile players live on the Sport Extra show with Matty Nixon and Matty Jones.

The exclusive was revealed by Lions Head Coach James Thomson who was pleased to introduce Manny Popoola and Joe Lister to the listeners.

Both players were excited about joining the Lions with Popoola stating he wanted to repay the faith and attention Coach Thomson has shown him. Lister echoed the sentiment adding he has been overwhelmed with how professional the club is and how friendly and welcoming the people are.

Both players are looking forward to the challenge with Coach Thomson indicating they will be among the best players in the league and the signings have signalled a statement of intent from the club.

“We want to produce an exciting brand of basketball and both these players will certainly provide this. I enjoy watching them at training so am confident spectators will be entertained on the court.” Said Coach Thomson.

Joe Lister arrives at the club from Calderdale Explorers as the third leading scorer in Division 3 last season. Lister is a strong all round player with an excellent shot and vision. His passing ability is at times breath taking and for a 22 year old player, he is only going to get better.

Joe is a product of the Mandela Warriors programme in Leeds and learned the game via his father Mark Lister and Lions player/Coach Paul Hartley, the link that opened the door for Joe’s arrival on Teesside.

Joe is pleased to have joined the Lions adding “I enjoyed a good personal season with Calderdale last year and I want to thank owner Glenn Hardaker and Coach Peter Brodrik for the opportunity.

“However I am now looking forward to this new opportunity with Teesside and have been impressed with every aspect of the club so far. We are training 4-5 times per week and have a committed group of strong players so training has been very productive.

“Playing in a 1200 capacity arena with a good crowd of supporters is going to be special and I am determined to help the Lions become successful.”

Fellow newcomer Manny Popoola has the physical build and ability to be a significant problem for any opposition. The 6’4” guard is an imposing player with strength, size and speed in abundance.

Manny was spotted in London by legendary coach Jimmy Rogers who trained him within the famous Brixton Topcats programme that has produced a line of high calibre players including NBA star Luol Deng.

Popoola, 27, can dominate multiple positions and will be the heartbeat of the team. He is a strong leader with a winning mentality and will expect teammates to raise standards both at games and in training.

When asked about joining the club, Manny indicated he was excited for the challenge, adding “We have a good team and James and Paul are good coaches. James introduced me to the project he is developing and knowing James and what he has achieved in the past, I believe this is going to be good.

“The club has a big fan base with lots of children playing so I am hoping they will turn out to support us. It makes a big difference when you have a strong crowd cheering on the team and they can play a big part in our season.

“I feel there is going to be a lot of expectation on our shoulders so I am determined to be prepared. We have started training earlier than most other teams and come September I expect our team to be in prime condition.”

Both players will feature in Saturday’s Test Event at Eston Sports Academy with tip off at 3pm against the Durham League Cup winners Darlington Storm.

To listen again to the BBC Tees Sport Extra show, click the link below:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p079vf2b