Sunday 26 May 2019

Yonda thrilled with All-Star award

Emma Gallagher

Basketball Ireland announced its All-Stars for the 2018/19 season and Zack Yonda of EJ's All-Stars is included after the club's phenomenal year.

The All Stars were voted for by coaches in each division of the National League.

In the Men's Division One, league winners DBS Éanna have two All-Stars on this year's team with Joshua Wilson and Stefan Zecevic both getting the nod.

Cup champions Tradehouse Central Ballincollig also feature on the squad, with Andre Nation voted onto the team.

The remaining two slots are filled by EJ's All-Stars Yonda and Johnny McCarthy of IT Carlow Basketball.

The American relocated to the Northwest at the start of the season, studying in IT Sligo and was a huge player for EJ's Sligo All-Stars as they went on a phenomenal 10 games unbeaten run, delighting their home fans at packed out performances in the Mercy College.

After news of Yonda's All-Star was circulated, the club said they were absolutely thrilled for the player.

"We are delighted to announce and congratulate Zack Yonda, our sports changes life victory scholar who was selected as one of only 5 players to Basketball Ireland's All-Stars first team in the National men's division 1.

"The All-Stars were voted for by coaches in each division.

"This is a huge achievement and so deserved, Zack is a fantastic player, who played brilliantly for Sligo All-Stars all season.

"Zack played a hugely influential part in the club's 10-0 winning streak this season as we fought all the way to the last game of the season to try and fill that promotion play-off spot.

"Well done Zack on earning personal recognition from your peers in the National League. Congratulations from everyone at the Club, we are all so proud of your achievement," the club said.

Yonda will be returning home to Philadelphia shortly after he completes his summer exams in IT Sligo, who he also played for and he said he will definitely be back to Sligo.

He told the Sligo Champion: "I am really delighted with the All-Star it is definitely a big honour to receive it.

"We had a really good season with the All-Stars and one to definitely look back on proudly.

"I am here in Sligo until I finish my finals in college which are coming up soon and then I will be heading back home.

"So I won't be around much longer. I have loved my time here so much, I will definitely be back for sure," the athlete added.

He is studying a Masters in Marketing in IT Sligo and is hoping to get into that area of work back in the States.

"I am planning maybe to teach in a middle or high school but I am not sure just yet."

His year in Sligo and with EJ's Sligo All-Stars has been a memorable one.

"I have had a great time and really loved it. It was great. I met a lot of friends during my time here and the club had a fantastic year.

"Everyone was so welcoming for me throughout the year.

"I think the club has built a good foundation now for the future. There is some great people there from Spain and Ireland and we have fantastic coaches.

"Carlos has been great and when Alberto was there too he was good as well, they are two good coaches."

Zack said that he probably won't get to play basketball when he goes home as the level over in the States is so high.

"I will definitely be watching how the All-Stars are doing and following them back home in Philadelphia," he said.

His family too made the trip over to Sligo to spend time with Zack at Christmas.

"Yeah it was great to have my family here at Christmas. They came and watched a couple of games too which was nice.

"We did a lot of travelling around so we got to see a lot of Ireland," he added.

For now, Zack is planning to return home but he will be back to visit his friends and club in the future.

Sligo Champion