I have to admit that recently I have been getting a little disheartened with basketball in the UK and to be honest this is not the first time. But that is all behind me now.
I remember arriving at Crawley last summer for my first look at the new Great Britain team under Head Coach Chris Finch. I was very impressed and seeing Luol Deng play certainly made me believe that we could get promotion to Eurobasket A. Well it was not long before we achieved that position going 6 and 0 through the summer. Deng was sensational but the rest of the team all stepped up and what a summer we had.
I remember going to the final game of the summer, the away game in Geneva and this was a game that we did not have to win we could have lost by 30 and still qualified. At times we did not look as if we could win but this Great Britain team simply refused to lose.
Over the past few months there have been highs and lows with the GB Men’s team. The suggestion that Ben Gordon was going to play, then he wasn’t, then he was…then…, the news that Luol Deng was fit and ready to play…then being refused permission to play because of insurance problems.
I can’t help but wonder if any of the USA basketball team had the same insurance problems as they were winning Gold in Beijing. But I digress, in the end Chris Finch got the team he wanted on the floor.
I have seen GB live three times this summer plus once on television v Czech Republic (Oh the joys of 1 degree west!) They have impressed me more and more each time because they have done what was required to win. The game in the Czech Republic was a perfect example, 24 turnovers and you still win the game. That is astonishing.
In Liverpool the GB bench really stepped up and in all my years of watching basketball I cannot remember seeing back 2 back alley oop dunks by the same player. Well I have seen it now and his name is Nick George.
Pops Mensah Bonsu is a monster player who never gives up and he certainly knows how to dunk it. Hey Pops I want you in my team…
Nate Reinking I have known for years and I have always loved his game. His years at Sheffield helped the team to be perennial winners and his 20 points in the GB road victory is why Chris Finch loves him so much. Nate is a go-to guy with a difference and he rarely fails to deliver.
Joel Freeland is another monster player who will grow to be unstoppable in the low post.
Then there is Luol Deng and I do not know what is left to be said. He does it all and he does it with a smile on his face. This is a face that could dominate posters in the lead up to the 2012 Games if anybody in the media paid attention to basketball.
You know I have been banging on about basketball to people at the top of the British media for over 30 years now and still they cannot see it. I can understand that they may not believe in the BBL and so choose not to show it on terrestrial television, but I think it is an appalling situation that a Great Britain team can qualify for a major tournament and still get so little media attention. This team represents the United Kingdom and I think representations should be made at the highest level to ensure that their success is reflected on television and from here on in, is made available to the largest possible audience, and that should be on terrestrial television.
Do we not pay a licence fee as well?
A final word on our Head Coach Chris Finch; I can honestly say I have always loved Chris Finch and the way he controls the game of basketball. His work at Sheffield is there for all to see and his success wherever he goes is no accident. He is the perfect man to lead this team into the 2012 Olympics. With the support of his coaching team and the folks at British Performance Basketball I think the future of British Basketball is assured.
And so it is that next summer it will be Poland here we come, I have already told my missus that we will be holidaying there next summer. She didn’t seem to mind, but I’m not sure she understood that we were going to spend most of the time inside basketball venues.
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