Myerscough’s return to the EYBL SuperFinal will prove to not only be a special occasion for the programme but also for long-serving academy coach Mike Bernard as he returns to a place he considers home in Levice, Slovakia.
Prior to joining the Myerscough coaching staff, Bernard had a storied professional career that began in 2002 and spanned 12 different clubs across Europe with stints in Greece, Germany, Italy, Cyprus, Czech Republic and Slovakia. He played for Seth Greenberg (Long Beach State, USF, Virginia Tech) at the University of South Florida after spending two years at Coffeyville Community College. Bernard learned his trade as a junior with the Manchester Giants from 1994-98 before returning in 2012 to finish his professional career.
However, what makes Levice so special is this was Mike Bernard’s last stop in Europe between 2010-2012 and where he helped lead the club to be crowned Champions of Slovakia for the first time in club history.
Mike Bernard playing for Astrum Levice in 2011.
In the playoff quarter finals Levice were able to fend off Handlova’s 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 series in true comeback fashion as they advanced to face Spisska Nova Ves who they dispatched of 3-1.
Mike Bernard holding his first professional European Championship in 2011.
Levice would match up with their regional rival from Nitra and in a dramatic final series that went down to the deciding game, would do enough to see them over the finish line and etch their names in the history books with Coach Bernard claiming his first professional European Championship.
Astrum Levice – Champions of Slovakia 2010-2011
Coach Bernard shared his thoughts on the return and the value playing overseas had on his career…
“In the heart of my return, it feels remarkably as if I’ve never truly left,” began Coach Bernard, brimming with nostalgia for his old stomping grounds. “Its been over a decade, and yet the welcoming arms of this friendly and kind community instantly make me feel at home. The warmth they extend not just to me, but to my family as well, is testament to the mark our shared past has left on this small town. I can’t wait for our boys to experience the hospitality I have always been shown”
He reminisced on his revered status as a guest of honour at the previous year’s playoffs and his forthcoming appearance at Saturday’s decisive finals game. “Each cherished memory, each rekindled connection, makes this place feel even more like home.”
Turning to his experiences overseas, Coach Bernard reflected on the unique opportunities it provided. “Playing overseas offers a different lens to see and understand the game. The competition level really exposes the weaknesses you might have overlooked playing domestically, pushing you against seasoned professionals and high-level teams.”
“It’s as though every game unveils a new hurdle, a new lesson. The constant challenge is invigorating – you learn to embrace it. This is something that I have been encouraging our current players to accept as the challenges we have faced over our involvement in European over the years have really played an influential part on their development just like it did when I walked in their shoes.”
In his final thoughts, the seasoned coach highlighted the need for players to continuously reassess and adjust their expectations. “The beauty of basketball is its diversity – different levels and styles in each place you go. It’s a vivid reminder that to improve as a player, one must be ready to adapt, reassess their goals, and commit to the work required, over and over again.”