Young superfan one step closer to basketball dream after coaching team for day

Max Philliban, aged 10, and friend Jake Richie with Caledonia Gladiators (Caledonia Gladiators/PA)
Max Philliban, aged 10, and friend Jake Richie with Caledonia Gladiators (Caledonia Gladiators/PA) Max Philliban, aged 10, and friend Jake Richie with Caledonia Gladiators (Caledonia Gladiators/PA)

A young basketball fanatic has taken one step closer to his dream job after he had the chance to coach his favourite team.

Max Philliban, 10, from Falkirk, was given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take charge of his favourite team, the Caledonia Gladiators.

It was the toughest challenge yet for the team after young Max travelled to East Kilbride to put the team through their paces.

He came to the attention of the team at a pre-Halloween match on October 29, when he dressed up as head coach Gareth Murray.

He donned a thick beard, a wig and sported the club’s kit – and even had a clipboard with him.

Max Philliban with coach Gareth Murray after he was given the opportunity to manage the team for a day (Caledonia Gladiators/PA)

Max even found a way to replicate Mr Murray’s tattoos.

The team were so impressed with his efforts, they invited him back for a behind-the-scenes tour as well as the chance to manage the team.

Max then got the training session under way by putting them through their paces in drills and giving them pointers from his own experience.

After a motivational team talk in the team’s dressing room, Max was given the opportunity to hold the team’s sword – and is the only fan to ever have had the privilege.

Max said: “I thought I’d be sitting on the sidelines watching the session today, so to actually be on the court with the players and Gareth was amazing.

“I’ve been thinking about what to say to the players for weeks and planning what parts of my own training I could bring to the team, so to talk to the coach about that and get pointers will help a lot with my own playing.

“I love basketball and my dream is to one day play for Caledonia Gladiators – hopefully today has taken me one step closer to that dream.”

Max Philliban, aged 10 – coaching Caledonia Gladiators (Caledonia Gladiators/PA)

Max has been going to Caledonia Gladiators games with his mother, Linsey Philliban, 41 and his best friend, Jake, for the last three seasons.

He also plays the sport at under-12 level for Falkirk Fury – where Gladiators players Jonny Bunyan and Fraser Malcolm began their careers.

Mr Murray, 39, who was recently nominated for Coach of the Year at the annual Scottish Sports Awards, said: “I think Max was coming for my job today.

“He was great at coaching the team and giving them pointers throughout.

“The team commented on how he really put them through their paces.

“Our fans are incredibly important to us so to have Max along and see his face light up on the court was fantastic.”

Gladiators player Clifton Moore Jr said: “Coach Max took over today and that was by far the hardest training session yet – he’s a beast.”

Max’s parents watched on with pride as he ran the training session.

Mrs Philliban said: “To not only get a behind-the-scenes look into your favourite team and play on the court with them, but to go that step further and coach them – that’s a dream come true.

“Max wants to get a photo with the players after every game and they are great at taking the time to accommodate him.

“He’s been talking about this for weeks so to watch him have this incredible experience has really been something else.”