By Vlad Ionasc
In a hugely successful 2019/20 season for Chester’s Men’s Basketball Team, two players raised the bar to a whole new level and established themselves as the leaders of Chris Leonard’s historic squad.
Isaac Ray and Reiss Faure-Daley lit up the Downes Sports Hall all year long with their long-range three-pointers and silky-smooth handles. The mouth-watering basketball displayed by the pair thoroughly entertained the Chester faithful who turned up in large numbers to cheer the team on from the bleachers and sometimes even from the balcony overlooking Chester’s home arena.
The dynamic duo paired their otherworldly talent with a Kobe-esque work ethic and made history as they spearheaded the University to its first league title across any sport. In doing so, they achieved a goal that they set out at the beginning of the season.
“When Isaac first got here, we said to each other that we want the best for the team. We looked at the league, I explained to him how it went last year and he said ‘Yeah, we can do this.’ so we just had that goal in mind from the start.”Reiss Faure-Daley.
Chester’s guard asserted himself as an elite player on both sides of the court in the NBL Div.2 as he finished top five in assists and steals. The Birmingham-born floor-general averaged 5.1 assists-per-game and 3.1 steals-per-game.
“I take quite a lot of pride when it comes to defence and creating opportunities for my teammates as well. They go hand-in-hand really, if you get a nice easy stop or a hard stop down one end then all you’ve got to do is make one pass if someone’s running real hard. Easy bucket.”Reiss Faure-Daley
Ray solidified himself as one of the most efficient players in the division, as he picked up 320 efficiency points throughout the course of the season (6th most). Ray made 61 out of 148 attempts from three-point land and thus established himself as an elite marksman in the division. His percentage from 3PT (41.2%) ranked second behind only Yonathan Napoleon’s (50.8%) in a mini-league of players who attempted 100+ threes.
“This season was one of my best shooting seasons from both the three-point and the free-throw line. I only shot about 30 per cent from the three-point line in the NCAA, in America. I’ve gotten a lot better and I feel like I can only continue to get better.”Isaac Ray
The American guard takes pristine care of his body and works tirelessly on his game. He credits all of his achievements to hard work rather than natural talent.
“Hard work definitely beats talents, every time. These NBA guys like James Harden, Kevin Durant, they’re some of the hardest working dudes, they’re the most talented guys but there’s a reason why they’re on the top.”Isaac Ray
Faure-Daley and Ray eulogized one another for the relentless drive, unfaltering determination and unmatchable intensity that they both showcased during the 2019/20 season.
“It was real special playing with Isaac. I feel like our passion and determination to get the best result, whether that was a win or whether we play our hearts out and get unfortunate like the game against Nottingham, we just wanted the best for the team and we just found the common ground there and worked from there really. He is a special player.”Reiss Faure-Daley
“It was incredible playing with Reiss. He’s a fantastic player on both sides of the ball, he sees the floor great, he creates for others, he creates for himself, he can get a bucket at will. On the defensive end he’s always in the right place, he can lock down the best player on the other team. He gets it done both sides of the court. What he also does is he holds himself and his teammates accountable, he doesn’t settle for average and I love that about him. He pushed me to become a better player this year and he pushed our team to be the best we could be.”Isaac Ray
The names ‘Isaac Ray’ and ‘Reiss Faure-Daley’ will be synonymous with ‘success’ and ‘breathtaking’ for the foreseeable future, with the duo having forever etched their names into Chester’s history book thanks to their awe-inspiring performances in the truncated 2019-20 season.