Thursday, 12 August 2010

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Dan Clark fires GB to 3-0 start with win in Bosnia

23 points from Estudiantes forward Dan Clark led Great Britain to an 84-80 win over Bosnia in Sarajevo last night which sent the side top of their European Championship qualifying group.

Chris Finch’s men now head for Birmingham on Saturday to face Ukraine, who defeated Hungary 80-71, and although they were forced to battle right to the finish, a third victory from three ties puts them in pole position to reach next year’s finals in Lithuania.

“This was a tough game,” said Clark. “Bosnia were coming off of a loss on the road and they played well in the first half. We played tough down the stretch."

GB made life difficult for themselves when they fell 11 behind in the opening quarter. With in-form Clark converting his first eight shots, they fought back but Bosnia responded to grab a 48-41 lead at half-time.

A flurry from Nate Reinking and Clark drew the visitors level early in the third and after Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng opened up a three-point lead, their rivals quickly responded to send the tie into the fourth period deadlocked at 64-64.

However in a tight finale, Clark sank two late free throws to put GB ahead for good with a minute left and Reinking, who had 21, hit the clinching scores in the dying seconds to give GB captain Drew Sullivan a victory to go with his record-breaking 50th cap.

“It’s a heck of an achievement,” said Finch. ”Drew and Nate have been here since day one. He’s been an inspirational captain and a great leader and if you’re going to build a team, it’s around guys like him.”

Deng and Pops Mensah-Bonsu each finished with 16 points, with the latter pulling down 13 rebounds.

Ratko Varda led the Bosnians with 20 points, while Kenan Bajramovic had 16 and Henry Domercant 14.


Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Drew Sullivan wants to mark Great Britain caps record with victory in Bosnia

Great Britain captain Drew Sullivan has insisted that he wants to mark his record 50th cap with a win against Bosnia tonight in Sarajevo.

The Newcastle forward, who has been in sparkling form, is set to overtake Bill McInnes’ long-standing mark for the most GB appearances in the European Championship qualifier in Sarajevo.

However after remaining unbeaten in their opening two ties against Hungary and Macedonia, Sullivan – who is just one cap in front of Nate Reinking - claims a victory would put Chris Finch’s men firmly on track to reach next summer’s finals in Lithuania.

“It’s a great honour,” he said. “Nate’s only one behind me but it’s pretty special to get the record. The main thing is that we beat Bosnia and go 3-0. It would put us in control of the group. But we when you see the teams ahead of us, we know everyone’s competitive so we have to continue to push right to the end of the qualifiers. We’re looking to finish up 8-0 or 7-1.”

Finch concedes he is looking for a greater contribution from his reserves, with Kieron Achara responding to criticism from the GB coach by hitting a critical three-pointer in Sunday’s overtime victory over Macedonia.

“It was a confidence booster,” said the Scot. “It’s something I know I can do but that I haven’t been doing. If the shot’s there, I’ll take it and I’m confident I’m going to make it. I just have to concentrate on doing the little things I need to do to help the team win.”


Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Cheshire Jets sign” American forward Chris Commons

Cheshire Jets have signed 6’9” American forward Chris Commons. The 25 year-old Commons played most recently in Germany, and also previously in Bahrain, after a college career USC Aiken.

Jets coach Paul Smith feels he has found exactly what he is looking for in his new signing:

“He’s perfect for what we want in terms of size and youth, he’s been out of college - with a great record - for about a year, he was a Division 2 All-American, and consensus All-American. He’s tall, shoots the three, puts the ball on the floor, rebounds, passes, and does it all. He has the potential to be a star in this league.”

Commons is relishing the prospect of coming over to play for the Jets.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “I feel it’s a very good decision and I’m grateful to the coach for this opportunity. One of the reasons why I wanted to sign was down to how straight-forward, honest and passionate the coach is to win. I want to just do my best, work hard and hope to do the same.”


Glasgow Rocks agree new one-year deal with American forward Mike Copeland

Glasgow Rocks coach Sterling Davis has challenged Mike Copeland to become a BBL All Star after agreeing a new one-year deal with the American forward.

Copeland spent four years at the University of North Carolina, of the Atlantic Coast Conference, but his career there was hampered with injuries preventing him from really breaking into the rotation.

Despite these setbacks, the rookie posted an average of 13.1 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per game in his debut BBL campaign. But Davis wants even more out of him second time around.

“We are very excited about getting Mike back,” he said. “He established himself as not only a very good player but also a fan favourite here at the rocks. He is a very approachable guy that everyone instantly took a liking to. It’s always good to have guys around who can show recognition to the fans just as they do week after week for us on the court.”


Monday, 9 August 2010

New Jersey Nets-Toronto Raptors confirmed for London

NBA Commissioner David Stern has confirmed that the Toronto Raptors will face the New Jersey Nets at London’s 02 Arena on March 4 and 5.

The pair of regular season games are the first time the league has taken competitive fixtures to Europe after over 20 years of friendlies. And although he is making no absolute guarantee that it will become an annual event, it fulfils Stern's promise to bring a regular season game to the UK before the 2012 Olympic Games.

"We'll need to assess how we do in March," Stern said. "It would not surprise me if this becomes an annual event. But I don't want to make a commitment on it."

The NBA has been criticised for pushing its own product at the expense of British domestic basketball, which has been damned by comparison in the chase to attract both fans and paying sponsors. Stern, understandably, is looking for a profit from the trans-Atlantic diversion but he is hoping for longer-lasting spin-offs in the lead-up to the 2012 Olympics and beyond.

“It’s always about the games themselves and the activities around the games,” he said. “Last year with our friendly in October, we did community service, we did clinics, we did court dedications. You can expect there will be a dramatic build-up towards March, that we begin to demonstrate to people that basketball – in particular NBA basketball but we hope all of basketball – has drawing power, especially for kids.

“It’s a very inclusive sport. When you have rosters that demonstrate the impact of globalisation in the NBA, that together with the focus that LOCOG will be putting basketball, it is going to be a very catalytic series of events that will keep basketball in the public eye.”

This game will be the Raptors' first visit to the United Kingdom. Toronto faced the Boston Celtics and Lottomatica Roma in Rome, Italy and Real Madrid in Madrid, Spain in pre-season games in 2007.

"The entire Raptors organisation is pleased to be representing the NBA in these historic regular season games in Europe," added Raptors President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo.

NBA regular season games have previously been played in Mexico and Japan but the league has previously resisted calls to bring a competitive game to Europe.

However, the National Football League has staged an annual regular season game in London for each of the last three seasons and the National Hockey League has also held in-season games in London before.

Stern admits it is unlikely other cities in Europe could host a similar fixture at present, with the 02 Arena's facilities, capacity and price policies making business sense. And having franchises across the Atlantic, on a full-time basis, remains unlikely in the short-term.

"I think one franchise doesn't work. It needs to be multiple franchises," Stern said. "We need buildings, we need owners, we need a better economy. It's certainly something that I and my successors will be considering."

Tickets will go on sale on September 1.


Sunday, 8 August 2010

Pops Mensah-Bonsu joins Caja Laboral Tau, signs 2-year deal

Pops Mensah-Bonsu has signed a two-year with Spanish play-off winners, Tau Baskonia, after the Great Britain centre rejected a move to Maccabi Tel Aviv.

The Londoner, who left CSKA Moscow at the end of last season, is understood to have a NBA release clause next summer. But he admitted that he is relishing a second spell in the ACB.

“This is as a good as it gets,” he said. “Especially in the ACB, you couldn’t ask for more. I wouldn’t have gone if it wasn’t an ideal situation. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s going on. It’s a great league, second only to the NBA. It suits the way I play. I’m looking forward to it.”

The former Toronto and Dallas reserve concedes he still harbours ambitions to return to the NBA, despite his failure to solidify his place in spells with four different teams in the league.

“I’m still young,” he said. “I’m not chasing it. If they want me, they can come find me. I’m someone who holds the NBA in high regard. I feel I’m a NBA player. But I have no problem coming to Europe. The quality of basketball is high. But if they want me they’ll come get me and I’ll keep playing as hard as I can.”

He joins a Caja Laboral side that is fresh off shocking FC Barcelona in the end-of-year play-offs but that has lost its long-time star, the Brazilian centre Tiago Splitter, to the San Antonio Spurs. But he believes he can maintain their status at the top of the Spanish game.

"They still have some great players,” he said. “There is pressure on them because they won the ACB play-offs last season. Hopefully we can repeat and get to the Euroleague Final Four.”


Pops goes off as Britain steer past Macedonia

Former NBA forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu delivered 27 points and 9 rebounds as Great Britain remained unbeaten in their European Championship qualifiers with a 104-96 win over Macedonia in Newcastle.

However Chris Finch’s men were forced to hold their nerve, rallying from seven points down in the fourth quarter to force overtime before they saw off their most dangerous rivals in front of around far from capacity crowd at the venue that will be home to the Eagles next term.

It should have been much simpler after GB opened up a 15-point cushion in the first period but the visitors eased back into contention to trim the gap to 47-43 at half-time.

As in Hungary, Finch saw his players suffer from the third quarter blues and it almost proved fatal. The Macedonians maintained their push to eventually go 83-76 in front with three minutes of regulation play left but the hosts rallied back from the brink. After Mensah-Bonsu intentionally missed a free-throw, Dan Clark tipped the rebound out to Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng, who calmly stepped out and hit a three-pointer with 6 seconds left that forced an extra period at 87-87.

And after the lead changed hands four times, Mensah-Bonsu scored six points in quick succession to spark a decisive burst that killed off Macedonia for good with Finch again rewarded from another series of clutch performances from captain Andrew Sullivan and Nate Reinking.

"For most of the game, even when we were down, I felt we were controlling the game," said Finch. "We lost our discipline a bit on defence in the third quarter. There was some tiredness. We tried to change things. Our rhythm went down a bit. Sometimes, when you go 6 or 7 down, you feel you have no response but when we called time out, we felt we had a response. You have to make big plays and we were able to do that."

Deng added 23 points and 11 rebounds for GB, who visit Bosnia - who lost 74-70 in Hungary - on Wednesday but for once he was over-shadowed by his team-mate.

"I'm not here if Luol isn't the player he is," Mensah-Bonsu countered. "Most of my points came from the attention that he got and he is that good of a player to find me and make me look good. The coach's game plan was good coming in. Defensively we were told to just disrupt them and get them out of their offence. They got a lot of lay-ups but we were trying to run them off the three-point plays and force them to finish at the basket."

Hometown hero Sullivan continued his inspirational form in his new sixth man role with 17 points and some key defensive plays that included a stunning block in the closing seconds of regulation.

"He played his role to a tee," said Finch. "He's an energy guy, a high-level garbage guy. People think that's a derogatory term but you can't win without guys like him."

Naturalised American Ivica Dimcevski hit a game-high 30 points for the Macedonians.


Saturday, 7 August 2010

GB rivals pushed me forward, says Ogo Adegboye

Ogo Adegboye has thanked his fellow guards for steering him to a surprise place in Great Britain’s line-up, even though it has left his rivals out in the cold.

The rookie point guard, who is about to begin his senior season at St. Bonaventure University in New York, is expected to keep his starting role when GB meet Macedonia in Newcastle on Sunday in the second tie of their Eurobasket qualifying campaign.

The 22-year-old overcame early foul trouble that limited him to 18 minutes in last Monday’s 91-82 win over Hungary, holding his nerve to make four critical free throws in the closing minutes and earning praise from head coach Chris Finch for his performance in his first competitive international. And he admits that the support from within the GB backcourt ranks has smoothed his path.

“They’ve been giving me advice on how to keep pushing myself and keep on working hard,” said the Londoner. “We all bust a gut at practice but off the court, they’re like brothers. In games they advise you and keep you calm and that’s been really helpful.

“Basketball is a mental game. It translates to the physical. I’ve become tougher and got much more knowledge about the game, more than I had before. I’ve had to adjust from the American game to the European game. And the process has really pushed up my basketball IQ.”

The newcomer is part of Britain’s Brixton enclave, which also includes Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng and Adegboye’s fellow first-timer Matthew Bryan-Amaning. And the bond between the trio has provided the playmaker with a huge lift.

“It’s so great,” he declared. “They’re like my brothers. They are my brothers. It’s fun to be with them and it’s encouraged me. It’s made it easier because they have my back on and off the court.”

Meanwhile skipper Drew Sullivan, who could equal Bill McInnes’ long-standing GB caps record if he makes his 49th appearance for the national side, is hoping for a full house in the first major fixture at Northumbria University’s new 3000-seater venue.

“I’ve been telling them to come and play in Newcastle for years so it would be great if we pack it out,” he said.


Chris Finch demands more from Achara ahead of Macedonian test

Kieron Achara could be dropped from Great Britain’s line-up if he can’t bounce back to top form, according to head coach Chris Finch. GB host Macedonia in Newcastle on Sunday in their second European Championship qualifier with both sides looking to maintain their 100% start to the campaign.

However, the Stirling-born forward finds himself in the doghouse after exchanging words with Finch when he was yanked from last Monday’s 91-82 win in Hungary after just three minutes on the court. And he’s been put on notice that his place is no longer automatic.

“Kieron’s been an absolute warrior for us over the past two years," said Finch. "He’s one of our X-Factors. He’s been able to go in and make an impact on games with his hustle. He makes a shot here and there. He plays great defence. But at the moment, he’s just not doing that.

“He’s down on himself. But we need him. We need his experience. We need what he can do for us. It’s a long month of basketball but right now, he’s a little off the pace.”

The Macedonians come into the tie at Northumbrian University buoyant after humiliating the Hungarians 78-44 in mid-week and Finch is aware of their challenge.

"We scout all our opponents live as well as on DVD," he said. "We feel we have a very good handle on them and what they are trying to do. The challenge, as ever, is stopping them. We must take away the strengths of their key players both inside and out."

The GB coach was pleased with his side's display against Hungary, but knows there is still room for improvement: "We executed our stuff well, we guard very well at times and we rebounded consistently. We didn't start the game or the 3rd quarter very well and we didn't take the best shots. We need to improve on all aspects of our game and keep growing as a team to be successful on Sunday as well as in the group.

"We are fully fit and we do not expect any significant changes to our core line-up. We will however need a bit more bench production from a few more guys than we had in Hungary".


Thursday, 5 August 2010

Butler does it as GB women clinch series over Israel

Great Britain’s women scooped a morale boosting 71-59 win over Israel in Tel Aviv on Thursday night in their final warm-up game before the European Championship qualifiers.

GB - paced by 22 points from Kim Butler - built a 35-28 lead at half-time. And Tom Maher’s side kept the hosts at bay to clinch the series 2-1.

“It’s great to win a series against Israel,” said Maher. “But in truth, it was winning ugly. Nevertheless, it was rewarding for the fact that we could seek out solutions to grind out a win.”

Julie Page added 13 points and 14 rebounds for GB who begin their European campaign against Slovakia in Birmingham in nine days time.


Milton Keynes sign Stefan Gill but left in venue limbo

Stefan Gill, the reigning English Basketball League Player of the Year, has joined Milton Keynes Lions after completing his move into the BBL.

The 5'10" guard leaves Manchester Magic, who he helped to league, Cup and Trophy honours during his stint in the EBL.

“I’d like to thank Stefan for all he has done for the club,” said Magic coach Jeff Jones, who saw his protege win the league, National Cup, Trophy and Play-off crown in his time in the senior Magic team.

“I’m sorry to see him go, but understand that we can’t offer him the higher level of competition. He goes with my blessing and thanks and we wish him well.”

The news comes as the Lions begin their search for a third home court in 12 months after their latest base, within the Centre:MK shopping mall, was ruled out for "logistical reasons".

"It is always a drain on resources having to keep searching for a home, we are grateful to thecentre:mk for hosting us last year but now we are nomads again," said Lions CEO Vince Macaulay. "We are in the final throes of securing a long term television deal with Sky Television and the game has simply exploded in the city, but with nowhere to play Iím not sure what the future holds.î

The Lions are looking at any large buildings in MK that could be converted to host games but time is not on their side they are due to play their first game on September 26.

Macaulay added: "Lions fans should take heart, we have faced tremendous difficulties over the years with regards to facilities and we have always found a way through, I will move heaven and earth to make sure we can stay in the city."


Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Jo Leedham hits 18 as GB upset Israel in OT

Great Britain's women produced their best outing of the summer to date by stunning Israel 85-75 in overtime in a friendly in Tel Aviv, just 24 hours after losing to the same team.

WNBA Draft pick Jo Leedham had 18 points in her first extended outing since an injury kept her out of a run of five consecutive defeats as Tom Maher's side continue their build-up to this month's Eurobasket qualifiers. But, with Julie Page adding 17, the visitors had to battle to prevail after blowing a 16-point cushion in regulation.

After the disappointment of fading in the final period on Tuesday, GB rushed into the 28-14 first quarter lead and were still 38-30 ahead going into the locker room at halftime.

A 19-11 third period looked to have put Tom Maher's team comfortably in control as they led 57-41 going into the fourth period, but they were outscored 30-14 to send the teams into overtime with a game tied at 71.

From there on, though, it was all GB as they outscored the hosts 14-4 to take the win and leave coach Maher delighted with the performance:

"It was a really pleasing victory in overtime especially considering we had such a good lead at three quarter time which we blew to go to overtime.

"The players composed themselves magnificently in the extra period and they found all the answers."

GB wrap up the series on Thursday in what will be their final game before EuroBasket qualifying starts at the NIA on Saturday August 14 when they face Slovak Republic.

The third, and final, game of the series is in Tel Aviv on Thursday.


Nets-Raptors to meet in London

The Toronto Raptors and New Jersey Nets are coming to London.

The Commonwealth's only NBA team will face the Nets in two regular season games on March 4 and 5 at the 02 Arena, according to Stateside sources.

The LA Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves will meet at the same venue in a pre-season friendly in October.


Tuesday, 3 August 2010

GB go down in Israel

25 points and 9 rebounds from Julie Page couldn't prevent an 80-69 defeat for Great Britain's women against Israel in a friendly in Tel Aviv.

After the sides were level at 39-39 at half-time, the visitors took a slender lead into the final quarter but Israel went on a 25-13 tear to wrap up the win. "We put a few things on the floor and there were a lot of good things to take from the game," said GB coach Tom Maher.

The teams meet again on Wednesday evening before wrapping up the three-game series on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Australian-born guard Natalie Stafford has received her UK passport and can play in Eurobasket qualifiers, British Basketball confirmed.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Great Britain survive Hungarian onslaught

Chicago Bulls star Luol Deng scored 32 points as Great Britain began their European Championship qualifying campaign with a battling 91-82 victory over Hungary in Szolnok.

And Chris Finch's men were forced to scrap to emerge on top from their opening tie after the hosts rebounded from 14 down to lead in the fourth quarter before GB produced a decisive late flurry.

The visitors had looked set for a comfortable win, Deng hitting 20 by half-time to spark his side into a 54-42 advantage. However the unfancied Hungarians - led by 20 from Adam Hanga - punished a series of lapses to eventually surge 71-67 in front.

And it was American-born guard Nate Reinking who calmed Britain's nerves when it mattered most, hitting consecutive baskets to push Finch's inconsistent line-up ahead for good with seven minutes left.

In the closing stages, the hosts were forced to foul desperately. But rookie guard Ogo Adegboye hit four clutch free throws that pulled GB clear in front of a noisy 3,000 capacity crowd.

“Every win is important especially on the road,” said Deng. “Two years ago we lost our first qualifying game and we had to climb up the hill then. But I think the experience of some of the guys from that situation brought us through here.”

Pops Mensah-Bonsu chipped in 14 points and a mammoth 18 rebounds for GB while Reinking added 16 after sitting out much of the third quarter in foul trouble.

"Getting Nate back in the game was a big advantage for us - he made some big plays," said Finch, who was in his 50th game at the helm of the national team.

"Luol's such a smart player. He's a team player and we've seen it before. It takes some time to settle down and it'll get better."

GB host Macedonia, who beat Ukraine 71-58, in Newcastle on Sunday with the coaching staff set to use the time to install more of their offensive schemes.


GB-Hungary updates

We'll have updates from GB-Hungary on Twitter at


Pre-Game Notes from Szolnok

- Great Britain's players emerged from their final team lunch at their hotel clutching the points of emphasis to remember during tonight's opening European qualifier against Hungary.

In the sleepy provincial outpost, there has been little alternative but to study the scouting reports and sleep since they arrived 24 hours ago. But they have already had the chance to practice twice at an arena described by one staff member as “a complete hothouse”. Their advice to the handful of GB fans? “Leave your jacket and jumpers at home or you'll fry!” Intriguingly, entrance is free.

- It is also the first competitive outing for the new-look coaching staff of Chris Finch, Nick Nurse and fresh recruit, Paul Mokeski, the one-time Philadelphia 76ers centre who is now doubling as Finch's aide de corps for the national team as well as at D-League champions, Rio Grande.

“Paul is awesome,” declared Nurse. “He is a great experienced basketball mind. Defence is his thing. When he speaks, people listen because he can say 'hey, I played in the NBA for 10-12 years'. He pushes the little things. Plus he's a great guy. How he's not on a NBA bench is beyond me. He's got a knowledge and experience that is valuable. He coaches big guys. He understands scouting. It's been excellent.”

The switches on the bench have been that Tony Garbelotto and Tim Lewis are now on scouting duties, with the lack of a British presence roundly criticised by many in the UK coaching fraternity. However Nurse, who remains the head coach the D-League's Iowa Energy, thinks the dynamic is working with the addition of extra backroom staff.

“We've really improved,” he said. “I think our preparation is better. Tony did a great job with the scouting and he's now focusing on that. Same with Tim. Our new video guy is out of this world. He comes from the Philadephia 76ers and he gives us stuff as soon as we need it. If I go to him and say 'I need to see Pops' last ten post touches', I have it in a minute and I'm done watching it in ten minutes. It's crazy. It's so smooth.”

- With several players on the GB squad unsigned, the Euro campaign will, inevitably, be a showcase for those who are hoping for a solid deal for next season. Pops Mensah-Bonsu's agent is holding talks with Maccabi Tel Aviv, a move which the Londoner confirmed would be “an attractive option.” His representatives are also understood to have received an approach from ACB play-off champions Caja Laboral Baskonia.

Kieron Achara is thought to be on the radar of both San Sebastian and Menorca as a Spanish switch for the Scot looms large. While captain Drew Sullivan has had no further contact from Newcastle Eagles, despite being linked strongly with joining Everton.

- Let's play Fantasy Coach. Given the performances, I'd expect young point guard Ogo Adegboye to start against the Hungarians in the backcourt beside Nate Reinking. Luol Deng is an obvious lock at small forward, Dan Clark will likely be utilised as a pop-out four-man, leaving Mensah-Bonsu to man the middle on defence while continuing to post up offensively. That unit would see Drew Sullivan as a sixth man off the bench with Flinder Boyd as the main back-up guard and either Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Kieron Achara or Eric Boateng spelling the frontcourt after none of the trio made a sufficiently compelling case in the build-up. As always, let's see what Finch comes up with, come gametime.


Vuvuzela banned by FIBA

FIBA has banned the vuvuzela from the forthcoming basketball World Championship in Turkey.

The sport’s international governing body is urging fans not to bring the controversial instruments to games and warned that security staff will confiscate them. Supporters also face expulsion from the tournament’s five venues if they flout the ban.

FIBA is the first international sport federation to officially ban the vuvuzela from all of its events. The ban will include pressure horns that can produce similar decibel levels and harm people’s health.

The noise made by the horns was a major talking point at the football World Cup in South Africa with opinion divided over the effect they had on the atmosphere during games.

Patrick Baumann, the Secretary-General of FIBA and a member of the International Olympic Committee, said: “We want fans to enjoy themselves and make lots of noise but not at the risk of spoiling it for others.

“The vuvuzela is simply not appropriate in a confined space such as a basketball arena. It’s a very loud instrument and some medical experts believe the decibel level and frequency can be harmful to hearing.

“Besides our responsibility to protect the well-being of our athletes and fans alike, the sound level in an indoor sport arena could create communication problems between the referees and that could have a direct negative impact on the game.

“We are urging fans not to bring the instrument to stadia because they will be confiscated by security staff and anybody who manages to smuggle one into a venue might end up missing the game.

“Previous tournaments have shown us that it’s possible to have a carnival atmosphere and passionate support without the vuvuzela.”

The ban will also be implemented for all other FIBA indoor events in the future such as the FIBA World Championship for Women later in the year.

Dr Heinz Gunter, Vice President of the FIBA Medical Commission, backed the decision saying: “If somebody is sitting next to more than one vuvuzela it can cause damage to the ear. The problem is the instrument has a very high frequency which is not good for the ears.”


Luol Deng ready to make up for lost time as GB start Euro campaign

Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng is ready to put two years of frustration behind him and help Great Britain qualify for next summer's European Championships, according to the national team's captain Drew Sullivan.

Chris Finch's side begin their campaign tonight against Hungary in Szolnok with their most formidable asset back in the ranks after missing last summer through injury. With a number of seasoned performers suffering a similar fate this time, his return provides a massive boost to Britain's chances of featuring in the 2011 finals in Lithuania – and, in turn, persuading the sport's governing body FIBA to confirm their place in the London Olympics.

“I'm glad Luol's back,” said Sullivan. “Last summer he was around the team as much as he could and you could see how upset he was that he couldn't play at the Eurobasket finals, which is something we'd spent two years working towards. He was devastated that he'd helped us qualify and then, unfortunately, got hurt with the Bulls and didn't recover in time. From our perspective, we need him. We're a much better team with him.”

With Deng barred from featuring in any of GB's warm-up games due to an issue with his NBA-sponsored insurance, Finch has been forced to take an extended look at a number of younger faces with the Spanish-based centre Dan Clark and American collegiate prospect Matthew Bryan-Amaning seizing their opportunity to stake a claim.

“Potentially, if they do well, it will benefit us because it shows that we have depth,” Sullivan stated. “If someone decides to pull out through injury, we now have guys who can step up and take their place at short notice. And it also puts pressure on the older guys, or players who might pull out for less than legitimate reasons. They'll now know that they won't necessarily get back in.”

Regular updates on Twitter on


Sunday, 1 August 2010

Cheshire Jets sign American centre Matt Schneck.

Cheshire Jets have beaten out an unnamed Swiss side to sign All-American centre Matt Schneck.

The 6'9@ Wisconsin native, just graduated from Central Minnesota, impressed coach Paul Smith at a Las Vegas show camp and has agreed a one-year deal.

“This is a great opportunity for me,” Schneck said. “It’s a nice experience to get under my belt. I get to keep playing the game I’ve always loved. It’s a tough crowd up there, but I think I’ll be all right. I think Central Minnesota toughened me up a little bit.”


Chris Finch names final 12 for GB opener against Hungary

Ashley Hamilton has been confirmed as the final cut from Great Britain's European Championship team as head coach Chris Finch named a 12-strong line-up for Monday's opening qualifier against Hungary.

The GB squad arrived in Szolnok on Sunday afternoon, fresh a brief break following three friendlies in Tel Aviv last week.

"It definitely helped us to play three pretty tough teams" Finch said. "They all had different styles, which was good for us, and we managed to use a lot of the younger players. We played pretty well, and although we had mixed results, we found out a lot about ourselves and it was a really worthwhile trip."

Finch confirmed that Nate Reinking and Pops Mensah-Bonsu have recovered from minor niggles and are fit to meet the Hungarians.

Great Britain (from): Achara, Adegboye, Bailey, Boateng, Boyd, Clark, Deng, Bryan-Amaning, Mensah-Bonsu, Reinking, Robinson, Sullivan (capt.)


Friday, 30 July 2010

Rob Yanders out of Great Britain squad

Glasgow Rocks captain Rob Yanders has been released from the Great Britain squad as coach Chris Finch prepares to finalise his roster for Monday's opening European Championship qualifier against Hungary.

The Milwaukee-born guard always faced a battle with team-mate Nate Reinking to secure the lone berth permitted for a naturalised player. However he revealed that he rejected an offer from GB coach Chris Finch to remain with the side in case injuries struck.

“It’s been a good experience and a really different one for me. I was pleased that I scored 15 points in my last game so I could go out on a high. But Chris told me that his decision wasn’t to do with my talent, just that he could only keep one naturalised player in his team and otherwise, I’d have been in. But he’s said I’m in his plans for the future. I knew it would be difficult for me because Nate’s been by Chris’ side for the last seven years. I’m up against a giant there. But he’ll be 39 by the time the London Olympics come around around so I’ll have another shot.

Finch, who joined his team on a tour of London's Olympic Park on Friday, is likely to take 12 players to face the Hungarians with Luol Deng now available to feature on the court. Yanders must wait another 12 months for his next chance and has returned to the USA while finalising his club destination for next season, which looks increasingly likely to be in Spain's LEB Oro League rather than in Glasgow.

"I need to do things to get ready for the new season and I wouldn’t have been able to do that effectively without being on court," said Yanders. "But Chris was really straight up with me. He's a stand up guy who I really respect. And I hope I can come back next year and make the squad. I just want to focus on being at the start of camp for whatever club I join and learning their system. "


Matt Guymon joins Plymouth Raiders on one-year deal

Plymouth Raiders have signed England International point guard Matt Guymon has put pen to paper.

Guymon has represented England Juniors at the U16 & U18 European championship and also made the 2007 & 2008 Great Britain's Men's squads. Most recently, he was selected by Team GB coach Chris Finch for the GB Futures u23 team. Just 2 weeks ago, he was selected for the England team that played in a tournament against Belgium, Luxembourg, Tunisia and Ivory Coast.

The 6'4", 23 year old is excited about the opportunity of moving to Plymouth. "I am really looking forward to playing for the Raiders next year, with best supporters and game day atmosphere in the BBL. I think we have the players and coaches in place to have a great year."

Guymon left England to complete his high school studies in Oklahoma, before enrolling at Oklahoma City University, where he won two NAIA National Championships.


Thursday, 29 July 2010

Worcester Wolves sign UK G/F Callum Jones

Worcester Wolves have signed 6'5" England junior international guard Callum Jones on a one-year deal.

Jones, who has represented England National team at U16, U18 and U20 levels, has spent the past four years at Pace University in the USA.
He is the younger brother of currently England captain James Jones..

"I decided to join Worcester because it is a club with ambition and has plans set in place to improve and become a top team in the BBL in the next couple of years," said the Wolves newcomer.

"I know how strong a coach Paul James is, and felt comfortable choosing to play for him especially after speaking to my brother James, who also played for coach James his first year out of college."

He continued "Going to Worcester also meant that I could continue with my education at the University of Worcester and get my masters degree, which is something I definitely wanted to do. The club has good support in the city and I am looking forward to the team having a great season."


Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Dutch inflict GB reverse in final Euro tune-up

Great Britain were never able to recover from a poor first half as they went down 94-83 against the Netherlands in their final games of the Tel Aviv tournament.

Without Pops Mensah-Bonsu or Nate Reinking, who were both resting minor niggles ahead of EuroBasket qualifier against Hungary, the GB side gave up 57 first half period points and a good second half saw them only able to knock five off the 16 point half-time deficit.

GB started slowly as the Dutch big men caused them problems, and they trailed 27-20 at the first break before being outscored 30-21 in the second period to go into the locker room 57-41 down.

A better second half performance saw GB step up their defence at the post, and a 20-16 third period saw them cut the lead to 73-61 going into the final stanza.

That deficit to cut to as few in the final period, but the Dutch held on to take their first win of the tournament.

Matthew Bryan-Amaning led the GB scoring with 16 points, with Rob Yanders adding 15 and Flinder Boyd 12.

Coach Finch wasn't too downhearted with the result: "With Pops and Nate not playing today it provided an opportunity for some of the young guys to step up. It was good to get them some quality minutes - they played well" he said.

"Defensively, we really struggled in the first half, giving up a lot of easy looks inside. We were better in the second half, but we've still got some work to do

"This was a good tournament for us. Three quality opponents, and now the team is looking forward to kicking things off next week."

GB now have five days to prepare for their opening EuroBasket qualifying game of the summer in Hungary.


Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Great Britain go down to Israel despite Pops haul

Great Britain lost 86-82 to Israel on Tuesday night in Tel Aviv despite a huge performance from Pops Mensah Bonsu.

The ex-NBA forward led GB with 25 points and 15 rebounds but could not halt the hosts from pulling away after the sides were level at 63-63 midway through the second half.

Despite the loss, Britain's third four-point defeat of the summer, head coach Chris Finch remained positive:

"It was an encouraging performance, and we gave ourselves a chance to win the game. It was good for us to play in front of a high-energy crowd, because we'll have to face that kind of pressure when we're on the road in the European qualifiers. Their three-point shooting really hurt us, especially in the second half. But when we played physically we were pretty effective."

Finch's men face the Netherlands on Wednesday in their final warm-up ahead of next month's European Championship qualifiers

"They've lost both games pretty heavily, but they're a decent team and those results aren't indicative of how good they are," he said.


Leicester Riders sign US F Anthony Simpson out of Kent State

Leicester Riders legend Geno Ford has given his old club one more assist by sending one of his college players to the BBL outfit.
6’8” forward Anthony Simpson, who played under Ford at Kent State University, has signed for the Riders for next season after spurning rival offers from the Korean League.

“I told Anthony he has a lot of pressure to live up to what I did when I was there,” said Ford, who averaged 18 points per game in the BBL. “It’s actually kind of funny that he will end up playing there, just like me. I loved my year in Leicester, and I know it will be a good situation for Anthony, too. It’s a great city to live in, and the team has a very loyal fan base.”

Simpson, who hails from Chicago, averaged 9 points and 6 rebounds in his senior year at KSU. And Ford believes he can adjust to the pros.

“This is Anthony’s rookie year, and like all players heading overseas, your first year is about proving yourself, getting your feet wet, showing you can live outside the country and showing you can be a productive player in the international game,” Ford told The Record.

“So for him, Leicester makes so much sense. It’s going to be a very simple transition.”

The Riders have already re-signed captain LaTaryl Williams.


Mersey Tigers put best paw forward as Everton cut BBL ties

Everton Tigers are no more.

Introducing, the Mersey Tigers. Liverpool's BBL club are to get a makeover next term after breaking their three-year association with their local Premiership club after the Blues confirmed they are to end their financial support. And they will be under new ownership after the team's former chairman, Gary Townsend, confirmed his return after a spell with Notts County.

“We’ve had significant support from Everton since the club was launched but now the time has come to start a new, exciting era,” Townsend said.

“We may be losing our association with Everton but this name change opens the club up to the other half of the city. I’m sure the fact we were so closely aligned with the football club put some off on the red side of the city. But this is a sport for everyone and hopefully being Mersey Tigers will enable us to attract even more supporters.

“Financially, I’m confident we can secure the future by increasing our sponsorship revenues, and I am hoping to announce our new sponsors and partners very soon. Of course, I’d be really happy to speak to any other interested parties.”

Townsend, who boasts a wealth of sporting experience having worked at Manchester United for seven years and five years at Goodison, has big plans for the future.

“There is so much potential,” he added. “We’ve already had 5,000 fans at the Echo Arena for a game and with the club never having had a full-time chief executive driving things forward off the court, this potential has not been fully developed.

“This sport is great family entertainment and I’ve never heard anyone who has come to a game say a bad word about it. The challenge is getting people through the doors.

“I really believe in this and I know what we’re capable of achieving.

Martyn Best has stepped down as Tigers chairman but backed the new team in charge.

“Having the Everton brand gave the Tigers credibility from day one and they quickly proved themselves to be a real force in British basketball and now I can see that they are ready to go it alone,” Best said.

“The Tigers have gone from nothing to the second most successful basketball team in the country in three years.

“After Gary left I and others helped carry the club through last season and it was great to add the BBL Play-Off trophy to the BBL Cup we won the year before.

“It’s a massive boost to have Gary back and with his wealth of experience I’m sure the club will go from strength to strength and I wish them well.”

Coach Tony Garbelotto will remain at the helm but Townsend faces a hectic few weeks signing up players for next season. None of last year’s crop are under contract and American duo Kevin Bell and Jerome Gumbs are unlikely to return, although Garbelotto has had talks with some of last season’s favourites as well as Great Britain captain Drew Sullivan.

And Townsend said: “We have made some exciting progress on all fronts, and we will have some good news for all our fans over the next few weeks, and I’m looking forward to a very exciting future for the new Mersey Tigers.”


Monday, 26 July 2010

Pops sparkles as GB edge past Belgium in Tel Aviv

Great Britain beat Belgium 84-80 in their opening game at the Tel Aviv tournament after a dominant performance from Pops Mensah Bonsu.

The former CSKA Moscow forward had 26 points and 9 boards as Chris Finch's men overturned a 45-36 half-time deficit.

Ogo Adegboye enhanced his claim on the point guard role by adding 20 points and six assists.

"It's a decent start to the tournament, Belgium are a good team and have had some good results in their previous games," said Finch.

"I was disappointed by how we played in the first half because we let them push us around, but the guys came out in the second half and turned things around by being the more assertive team.

"We had some good performances from the younger players such as Dan Clark, Ogo Adegboye and Eric Boateng and I'm looking for us to continue that against Israel tomorrow. They will give us a really good challenge, and that's what we need at this stage of the summer."

GB face hosts Israel on Tuesday.

Box score


Reinking and Yanders must scrap for one place, admits Finch

Glasgow Rocks captain Rob Yanders has been handed three games to prove that he deserves a place in Great Britain’s European Championship plans by coach Chris Finch.

With just one naturalised player allowed per team, the American-born guard will have to compete with Nate Reinking for a spot in the final 12-man squad over a trio of warm-up friendlies in Tel Aviv, starting today against Belgium.

And Finch has signalled that Yanders needs to show he can make the step up from the BBL to the international stage.

“I coached Rob in Sheffield in his first year in Britain and he’s my type of guy,” said Finch. “He’s tough, he’s smart and he makes big plays. He’s a good team-mate. Unfortunately, he and Nate are battling it for the only naturalised spot.

“For Rob, his opportunities will come if he proves himself as a point guard which we need. It will be interesting because they’re both good players but we can’t play them both at the same time.”


Sunday, 25 July 2010

Damian Jennings full of praise as GB U-20 women claim Euro crown

Great Britain's under-20 women sealed the European Championship Division B title with a thrilling 47-46 victory against Slovak Republic on Sunday evening.

Damian Jennings' side had already clinched promotion to the top flight, but their success in the final in Macedonia saw them become the first GB age group team to clinch a FIBA Europe title.
Led by 13 points and eight rebounds from Mairi Buchan plus 12 points and six boards from Mary Durojaye, the GB side led for most of the game after a strong second period put them in the driving seat.

GB didn't shoot the ball well inside the arc, managing only 28 percent of their two-point efforts, but hit half of their three point attempts and out-rebounded the Slovaks 48-35.

Kristie Sheils added nine points and five boards, with Rebecca Allison finishing with nine rebounds and three assists for a GB team that gave at least seven minutes of action to all 12 of their roster.

Slovakia were led by 16 points from Klaudia Lukacovicová and 14 from Veronika Cernáková, and will be consoled by the fact that they will join GB in Division A next season.

"I am really proud of all the players and their commitment to this result - all 12 played with class and determination," Jennings said.
"You are never going to get a one sided affair when the stakes are so high, and Portugal certainly reminded us frequently what we were all fighting for.

"The manner in which the players and staff have operated since the beginning is testimony to how seriously we take representing our country and it was incredibly pleasing to see everyone from GB staff back home, my staff team and the players rewarded for their efforts with this history-changing promotion."


GB women are double Dutched

Great Britain's women suffered a double Dutch defeat in Utrecht with a 78-76 reverse against the Netherlands in their latest pre-European qualifiers friendly.

Julie Page's 27 points and eight rebounds failed to make a sufficient impact with the side now returning to the UK for a brief break ahead of their next set of warm-up games, in Israel, on August 3-5.

Meanwhile, Tafari Toney has been released from the GB men's side ahead of their series of friendlies in Tel Aviv that begin on Monday.


GB U20 Women earn promotion; Men finish sixth

GB under-20 women became the first GB age-group team to win promotion to the top tier of European basketball following their 59-40 success against Portugal on Saturday evening. They will now play Slovakia in the European Championship Division B final on Sunday evening - but the hard work is done and they will compete in the A Division next season.

Damian Jennings' team never looked back after a 17-4 first period, and a good all-round team performance saw them take the win and a place in the top flight. Mairi Buchan led the scoring with ten points, and added eight rebounds, while Katrin Chiemeka hit three of her five three-point attempts to finish with nine points, and also added eight boards and three steals.

After that blistering start, GB remained in control and were 28-15 ahead at half-time having shared 22 second period points.

The Portugese - who were led by 11 points and as many rebounds from Sofia Da Silva but had no one else in double figures - shaded the third period12-11 to cut GB's lead to 38-27 at the final break. But they had no answer to the GB team in the final stanza as they outscored them 20-13 to take the victory. A 52-37 success rate on the boards made up for a poor night shooting, as Jennings and his team were left to celebrate.

In the European U20 Championship for Men, Great Britain ended up in sixth place following a play-off for fifth with Israel. Tim Lewis' side were beaten 103-92 in Oberwart, despite a game-high 31 points from Ovie Soko.


Friday, 23 July 2010

GB fizzle out against Finns despite Pops return

Great Britain were beaten 81-77 by Finland in a friendly in Cobham on Friday night as Chris Finch’s men were left searching for their first win ahead of the European Championships.

With ex-NBA forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu and point guard Justin Robinson returning to the line-up, GB lost an early lead as their guests drew level at 22-22.

With Nate Reinking scoring 15 of his team-high 18 points before the interval, the hosts moved 46-41 ahead at half-time but their advantage was slowly erased by the powerful Finns.

61-56 ahead at the start of the fourth quarter, Finland never allowed GB - who missed six free-throws in the dying minutes - to regain the critical momentum they needed and they claimed victory in the three-team tournament over Canada.

Finch now takes his team to Tel Aviv for a four team event against Israel, Belgium and the Netherlands which begins on Monday.

Meanwhile, Great Britain's women lost 72-62 to Netherlands in Utrecht as they paid for a slow start in their third game of their Benelux tour. Jeneya Wade-Frey led the scoring with 18 pts and Kim Butler, returning after injury, had 15 and 9 rebounds.


Under-20 women one win from promotion; men play for fifth

Damian Jennings was a relieved man after Great Britain’s under-20 women survived a late scare against Israel to book a place in the European Championship Division B semi-finals with a 72-65 victory.
GB now need to beat either Portugal in Saturday’s semi-final to clinch a place in the European Championship Division A next season
"We are obviously pleased to make a semi, but we are treating it like a grand final" Jennings said.
"We came here to compete and I believe we are ready to produce the performance necessary to progress."
If Jennings' team were to win the game they would become the first British age-group team to reach the top tier of European basketball since the current two division system was adopted six years ago.

Meanwhile, Great Britain’s under-20 men bounced back from their heartbreaking failure to qualify for the semi-finals of European Championship B Division to hammer Portugal 91-66 on Friday.
Tim Lewis' side will now face Israel in the fifth place play-off on Saturday, and the GB coach was delighted with how his team reacted following their elimination from the promotion round.
"We were a little bit tired, and that's why the major players didn't play too much. But it was another good performance, and everyone contributed.
"We're really come together as a group , they're great team-mates and that gets us through games. It wasn't easy for them to miss out on the semi-finals, and they could easily have walked away from this one. So it's a real credit to the boys that they've stuck at it. We're looking forward to tomorrow and staking a claim for fifth place."
Five Brits were in double figures, with Alex Marcotullio leading the way on 17 points, as all 12 GB players got on the scoreboards.


Sullivan and Stewart set for Newcastle exit?

Reigning BBL champions Newcastle Eagles could be set to lose their two biggest names and force player-coach Fabulous Flournoy into a major re-building job.

It is understood that Great Britain captain Drew Sullivan is on the brink of joining Everton Tigers for next season after failing to strike a deal to remain on Tyneside.

Sullivan, who has also played in Cyprus and Russia, wants to remain in the UK and league sources confirmed that Everton are set to tempt him to Liverpool.

And he could be joined by former BBL MVP Lynard Stewart, who is also likely to reject a return to the Eagles.

According to a report in The Journal, the American forward is considering retirement in order to take up a teaching post in Philadelphia, where his family is based.

“Lynard hasn’t made a decision yet and I would love to have him back, but I know it’s going to be tough to get him back here,” Flournoy told the newspaper.


NBA regular season game in London within a year?

Interesting throwaway from's Scott Howard-Cooper about the chances of a regular season game in London during the forthcoming 2010-11 campaign

According to his regular take, citing sources close to the league's Commissioner David Stern, confirmation of a game in the UK may come next month when the full schedule is announced. "The Nets seem set as one of the teams, barring a late change," Howard-Cooper wrote.


Thursday, 22 July 2010

Lewis rues Austrian reverse as U20s miss promotion

GB under-20 men's coach Tim Lewis was despondent as his team missed out on the chance to play for promotion in European Championship Division B.

Lewis' team chalked up their fourth straight victory on Wednesday evening when they comfortably defeated Slovakia 82-66, but Austria's 82-78 loss against Poland meant there was a three-way tie at the top of Group F that left GB in third place on points differential.
Britain will now play for 5th -8th places despite only losing one game.

Lewis was pleased with how his team played in their win against the Slovaks.

"It was a scrappy game against a scrappy team, but we overcame our tiredness and we again played with real toughness. I'm incredibly disappointed not to be in the semi-finals as we consistently showed we deserved to be there, the guys played their hearts out.

"It's is unfortunate that there's a team with two [Austria] losses in the semi-finals, and we'll be sitting watching it with five wins from six games. I know why the competition has the system it does, but one bad day has cost us dearly."


Luol Deng gets GB go-ahead

Luol Deng's insurance issues have been resolved and the Chicago Bulls forward has been cleared to play for Great Britain, as expected, in next month's European Championship qualifiers.

The NBA player surprised British Basketball officials by arriving in the UK on Thursday on an overnight flight from Chicago in time to link up with the squad at their media day in Surrey.

Deng's insurance deal allows him to practice with his team-mates and although he admitted he will need "a week" to regain full fitness after his recent trip to Sudan, he is expected to be ready for GB's opening qualifier against Hungary.

Pops Mensah-Bonsu also arrived early at camp and will likely feature in Friday's friendly with Finland.

Coach Chris Finch has also released teenage guard Devon van Oostrum from his squad. The Caja Laboral playmaker, considered a long shot to make the final squad, will now link up with England's Under-18 team for their European Championship series in Israel.


Wednesday, 21 July 2010

GB men suffer late collapse to Canadians in warm-up opener

Matthew Bryan-Amaning hit 18 points but made a losing senior debut for Great Britain in an 82-78 defeat to Canada in Surrey.

Chris Finch’s men, playing without Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Luol Deng, built a 16 points lead in the second period in their first warm-up game ahead of this summer’s European qualifiers.

But Canada made a late rally with an 18-5 burst in the fourth quarter and although Yanders helped bring GB back to within 1 point with 14 seconds left, the visitors sealed victory from the foul line.

Dan Clark added 12 while Casey Archibald led the victors with 18.

GB host Finland at the same venue on Friday.


Belgium hand GB second loss

Great Britain's women saw their late rally end up in vain as they lost 66-59 to Belgium in the second of two friendlies in Kortrijk.

Tom Maher's side trailed 55-38 at the end of the third quarter but made a charge in the fourth that came up just short.

Jeneya Wade-Frey had 19 points and Julie Page had 10 points and seven rebounds for GB who meet the Netherlands in two warm-up ties this weekend in Utrecht.


Luol Deng a doubt for European campaign

Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng is set to miss all of Great Britain’s friendlies ahead of next month’s Eurobasket qualifiers due to problems with insuring the Londoner against injury.

Both Deng and former NBA forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu have yet to join up with Chris Finch’s squad at their Surrey training camp and neither will play in Wednesday’s international against Canada in Cobham.

Mensah-Bonsu is expected to be available for Friday’s tune-up against Finland if he arrives, as scheduled, from his off-season base in Washington DC.

However Deng – who signed a £46 million contract with the Bulls in 2008 – might not even be allowed to practice with the national side while British Basketball officials continue their negotiations with the NBA’s insurers to cover him on international duty.

“He’ll be considered high-risk until his contract runs out in four years time,” admitted British Basketball’s performance director Chris Spice. “So although we’re still working through the details, it’s probably less than 50/50 that he’ll be able to play in any of the warm-up games. It’s the worst thing for him and the worst thing for us because he has to be ready to play.”

Meanwhile Kieron Achara believes he can cement his place in Finch’s plans by filling the void left by Deng. The 6’9” Stirling-born forward, who plays for Italian club Biella, is set to make his first start for GB against the Canadians.

“I believe I’m growing as a player every game and every practice,” Achara said. “I feel more comfortable with my role and what I can and can’t do. I know what I need to work on. My confidence is building. I just need to go into camp and show what I can do.”


TimLewis targets semi spot as GB Under20 prove Pole apart

Great Britain U20 coach Tim Lewis believes his team have shown they have what it will take to reach the semi-finals of the European Championship Division B.

The Brits swept into the second group stage with a 73-52 demolition, and now face Norway, Poland and Slovak Republic for a chance to go further.

"We've watched Poland and Slovakia, and have played Finland in the warm-ups, so we know what to expect," Lewis said.

"Poland are a really tough team, while both Slovakia and Norway can beat anyone on a good night.
There's no easy games at this stage by an means, but we produced a great performance on Sunday, so we'll look to repeat that.

"They're all fit, tiredness is creeping in a bit, but everyone is ready to go, and looking forward to it."

Ovie Soko has been the star man for GB so far, averaging 17.7 points per game, while Andrew Lawrence has added 13.7 ppg and Will Neighbour has 13 ppg and 7.7 rebounds per game.


Tuesday, 20 July 2010

British women go down to Belgium

Great Britain were thrashed 97-71 by Belgium on Tuesday in the opening game of their Low Countries tour.

Kim Butler led GB with 16 points and 10 rebounds with Jo Leedham among a number of injured absentees in Tom Maher's ranks.


GB U20 women into quarters despite Czech mate

Great Britain's women have advanced into the European Under-20 Championship quarter-finals despite losing their final game in the second phase.

Damian Jennings side lost 72-58 to the Czech Republic with Mairi Buchan hitting a team-high 12 points.


FIBA retain ball to avoid repeat of World Cup outcry

FIBA announced today that it was retaining the same ball for the upcoming World Basketball Championship in Turkey which was used in the tournament four years ago.

The sport’s international governing body confirmed that it was keeping the Molten GL7 which was chosen for the finals in Japan in 2006 and also for the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

The announcement came after the recent controversy surrounding the special-edition Jabulani that was introduced for the football World Cup in South Africa. Some players have criticised its unpredictable flight and FIFA is to investigate its use.

Patrick Baumann, the Secretary-General of FIBA and a member of the International Olympic Committee, said: “We are not prepared to jeopardise the integrity of our tournament for commercial reasons. FIFA took a major gamble by introducing a new ball and there are plenty of critics who do not think that it was worth it.

“The ball is one of the key elements in our brilliant game and we do not want to do anything which might spoil the fun, excitement and competition in Turkey. The Molten GL7 has served our sport remarkably well and there is absolutely no reason to change it.

“The players love it and our view is: ‘If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.’”


Under-20s thrash Norway

GB Under-20 Men produced a scintillating performance to hammer Norway 83-47 in their first game of the second stage at the European Championship Division B.

The Norweigans had emulated GB by finishing second in their first stage group, but they were blown away as GB led from tip to buzzer on their way to a big win. Will Neighbour led the GB scoring finishing with a 24-14 double-double in 33 minutes of action, with Jack Stannard and Ovie Soko each finishing with 13 points, plus four and seven rebounds respectively.

Tim Lewis' team out-rebounded Norway 39-16, and outscored them from all areas of the court - finishing with an impressive 62 percent from two point land, 53 percent from outside the arc 87.5 percent from the foul line.

The GB coach couldn't hide his delight at the victory: "Like I said yesterday, the team is really starting to believe in themselves" he said.

"It would be wrong to single out any individual as it was a great team effort. You could look at Will's stats or the great contribution from Jack Stannard, but ultimately it came down to unselfish play from all of the team. We finally have a group of players who know that if they work together they will be successful and get the wins.

"Offensively we were excellent, but it was our defence that really stood out. We knocked down passes, got the deflections and out-rebounded them. That was some of the best basketball I've seen for a long time."


Sunday, 18 July 2010

Great Britain's Under-20s both advance in Euros

Old Dominion centre Mairi Buchan grabbed 17 points and 12 rebounds last night to lead Great Britain to an 70-69 upset of hosts Macedonia in the European Under-20 Championships.

Buchan’s fellow Scot Becca Allison missed two free throws in the dying seconds but it failed to prevent Damian Jennings' side from sealing the win which sends GB into the knock-out stages.

Great Britain’s men thrashed Belgium 72-53 in their final group tie to advance to the next round, led by 16 points from guard Andy Lawrence.
The result saw Tim Lewis' team seal second spot in Group C, and the top three from their section now join up with the top three sides from Group D to form a six team pool. Britain will carry their record against teams who qualified with them into the second stage, so they are currently joint third with a 1-1 record.

After playing Norway on Monday, they will face impressive Group D winners Poland on Tuesday and Slovak Republic on Wednesday. The top two sides qualify for the semi-finals. Lewis knows his team face a tough test, but is quietly confident: "We've watched Poland and Slovakia, and have played Finland in the warm-ups, so we know what to expect.

"Poland are a really tough team, while both Slovakia and Norway can beat anyone on a good night. There's no easy games at this stage by an means, but we produced a great performance on Sunday, so we'll look to repeat that.

"They're all fit, tiredness is creeping in a bit, but everyone is ready to go, and looking forward to it."

Norway opened the tournament with comfortable victories against Belarus and Romania, both of whom were eliminated at the first stage, before being hammered 91-70 by Poland. They bounced back to beat Slovakia 68-58, and go into the second stage level with GB in third spot.



Great Britain women bounce back to beat Portuguese

Great Britain's women rallied from 22 down to beat Portugal 72-50 in a friendly in Guildford.

The home side shot poorly in the first half at 27% despite good performances from forward Azania Stewart who hit 9 points coming off the bench. Portugal rallied to take the lead at the end of the first quarter with a Romahlo 3 pointer.
A second quarter saw GB trail by 7 points before the team responded with a run that took them to a one point lead at half time.

Coach Tom Maher clearly gave the team some inspiring words in the locker room at half time as they came out and started the second half with a renewed and determined approach. A good team effort saw them take the lead by 10 points at the end of the 3rd quarter.

The team continued to consolidate their 10 point advantage in the 4th quarter and finished the game 22 points ahead.

Head Coach Tom Maher said of the game:
"We had a ragged first half but focus and execution were significantly better in second half. Our goal is to put two of those of halves together tomorrow. Two players who gave a good account of themselves tonight were Julie Page and Natalie Stafford."

Top scorers from GB were Julie Page with 18, Natalie Stafford with 13 and Azania Stewart with 11. Portugal's Romalho scored 11 with Reis taking 9.


Saturday, 17 July 2010

England's summer campaign ends in defeat

England's summer campaign ended with a defeat as they went down 85-64 against Belgium Under-23s on Friday.

Despite 15 points from Guildford Heat's Tayo Ogedegbe and a strong third period, Paul James' side will return home with a 1-3 record in the competition.

England - minus injured skipper James Jones - were dominant on the boards, out-rebounding the Belgians 40-31, but a poor shooting night which saw them convert only 29 percent of their field goal attempts proved key as they slipped to a loss.


Under-20 women close on quarter-place

GB Under-20 women made it two wins from as many games as they won a thriller 54-50 against Hungary on Sunday.

The victory takes Damian Jennings and his team to the brink of qualification for the quarter-finals of the European Championship B Division.
In a tight game, GB held their nerve down the stretch, with free-throws from Katrin Chiemeka, Miari Buchan and Tamzin Barroilhet sealing the victory.

Chiemeka led all scorers with 11 points, backed up by Kristie Sheils' ten and seven from Charlotte Stoddart. Buchan had a quiet game offensively with five points, but pulled down eight rebounds as GB won the battle of the boards 29-27.

Mary Durojaye finished with six rebounds and as many points, while Barroilhet had five boards and four assists to go with her six points. Only Nikolett Sarok finished in double figures for Hungary with ten points, while Lilla Horvath added eight.

Alexandra Theodorean gave Hungary the lead, but scores from Baroilhet and Miari Buchan put GB in front.

In a sign of things to come, it proved to be a tight period, with GB ahead for most of it before back-to-back M Sipos treys gave them an 18-15 lead with 97 seconds remaining - but it was Charlotte Stoddart who had the final say by sinking a buzzer-beating three to send the teams into the first break level at 20.

The teams were still tied at 24 after six minutes of second quarter action, but treys from Chiemeka and Sheils put GB 32-29 ahead going into the final two minutes of the half and a single Kashmere Joseph free-throw sent them into the locker room with a 33-29 lead.

The GB run was extended to 11-0 as Durojaye opened the second half scoring, followed by scores from the Land of Plenty by Chiemeka and Sheils.

A timeout from Hungary had only limited effect before they scored their first points of the half with a Sarok jump-shot, and that launched an 8-2 run which saw them make it a six point game going into the final two minutes of the period.
Chiemeka ended the run from the foul line, but it was a Stoddart jumper which sent GB into the final break with a 48-43 lead.

Sarok cut that lead with the first score of the final period, and Horvath left the game with 6:28 remaining, Stoddart's reintroduction paid an immediate dividend as she drew her fifth foul.

Incredibly, though, Britain were scoreless for the first nine minutes of the stanza as a Rujak score followed by a R Balint trey put the Magyars 50-48 ahead going into the final minute.

That proved to be the final time Hungary scored, though, and Sheils levelled the score with 57 seconds on the clock.
Chiemeka put GB up by two 43 seconds from end with a pair of foul shots, and after Sarok missed a shot with 25 seconds remaining, Buchan grabbed the rebound and was sent to the line.

She hit one from two to make it a three-point game, and Kovalcsik turned the ball over with three seconds remaining, and Barroilhet wrapped it up at the foul line.

Britain continue their push for promotion on Sunday evening as they face tournament hosts Macedonia.


GB U20 men qualify for second phase despite Austrian defeat

under-20 men let a double-digit first half lead slip as they went down 91-71 against Austria in the European Championship B Division on Friday.

The tournament hosts had chalked up a come-from-behind victory against Belgium in their first game, and they repeated the trick to go top of Group C with a strong second half. With Belgium beating Denmark, GB are now assured of a place in the second phase of the tournament, but their final preliminary round game against the Belgians on Sunday will be key if they hope to progress to the semi-finals.

Andrew Lawrence led the British scoring with 18 points, with Ovie Soko adding 15 and Will Neighbour ten. Britain were out-rebounded 37-27 by an Austrian team who had Jesse Seilern and Anton Maresch each scoring 21 points.

Despite the margin of defeat, coach Lewis remained positive after the game: "In the first half we played some of the best basketball seen at under-20 level. "We were the better team, we executed exceptionally well and really took the game to them.

"Unfortunately we made a couple of mistakes early in the second half and they made us pay. When a team goes 60 percent from the three-point line, it's hard to stop. We made some changes, and we certainly weren't outplayed. We stuck at it, and if we'd made a couple more lay-ups and got a couple of stops at the defensive end it would have been a different game, the scoreline didn't reflect the game."

Eric Schranze opened the Austrian scoring with a pair from the foul line, but Alex Marcotullio replied for GB, and he kept Tim Lewis' team in touch with a second shot from downtown before Will Neighbour launched a 7-3 run that put GB into a lead they wouldn't relinquish during the first period.

Marcotullio hit his third three-pointer of the game with 3:41 on the clock, and with Andrew Lawrence and Will Hall also scoring from long-range, Britain went into the first break 27-20 ahead. The threes continued to drop for Britain as Lawrence opened the second period, although Thomas Klepeisz made it a seven point again with a similar shot.

Soko hit a pair of foul shots to keep Britain ahead, and five straight points from Ryan Martin made it 40-30 at the midway stage of the period.
But seven straight Maresch points took his tally to 19 for the half and made it three point game before Lawrence and Seilern exchanged three-pointers.

The Austrian run continued as Seilern gave them a 44-43 lead with 88 first half seconds remaining, but it was GB who went into the locker room with a slender 45-44 lead as Nigel Van Oostrum converted a lay-up with 54 seconds on the clock.

That lead quickly evaporated as triples from Romed Vieider and Sailern gave the home side a five point lead.
Myles Hesson broke the run, but Maresch scored what proved to be his only points of the half to give Austria a double-digit lead with four minutes of the period remaining, and three-pointers from Klepeisz and Lukas Linzer sent Austria into the final break with a 74-56 lead.

Four Soko points and a Lawrence scoring run saw GB open the fourth period with a 7-1 run to make it a 12 point game, but Seilern sunk a dagger three-pointer to end the comeback, and Tim Lewis' team never got the margin into single digits as Austria closed out the victory.


Under-20 women off to a flyer in Macedonia

Great Britain's under-20 women made the perfect start to their push for promotion to Division A of the European Championship with a 61-42 victory against Belgium in Macedonia on Friday.

Belgium narrowly missed out on a place in the top flight last summer, but they had no answer to an explosive GB performance which saw Katrin Chiemeka lead the scoring with 15 points. Damian Jennings' team never looked back after a 15-6 first quarter, and went on to outscore the Belgians in all four periods. That lead grew to 32-21 going into the locker room at half-time before an 18-11 third period effectively wrapped things up. Ahead 50-32 going into the final period, GB didn't let up as they outscored Belgium 11-10 in the fourth quarter to take the win.

Mary Durojaye finished with ten for a balanced GB offence, with Miari Buchan and Kashmere Joseph each adding eight, and Kristie Sheils and Tamzin Barroilhet six apiece. Jennings was understandably delighted as he marked his first European Championship game with a victory: "This really was a positive start, with all the players contributing" he said.

"We contained the one on one well for the majority of the game and, apart from a few minutes in both halves, dominated the boards well. We allowed too many scores in the paint in a couple of spells, which I'm sure we can get right before tomorrow as they were our errors. There is still more to come from team in transition, and definitely at the offensive end."

The young GB team will face Hungary on Saturday afternoon, and Jennings is already preparing for the game:

"Tomorrow will be different as Hungary boast players with EuroLeague experience and are heavily skilled scorers - but I know they will have watched us play and won't enjoy the physicality, athleticism or composure to our game."


Friday, 16 July 2010

Luol Deng dishes out an assist in Sudan

Great Britain international Luol Deng has dished out an assist in the country of his birth after making a first trip to the Sudan in 20 years.

The Chicago Bulls forward, who will report for GB duty next week, visited the Kakuma Refugee Camp as part of a goodwill trip to Kenya and Sudan through the UN High Commission for Refugees.

The 25-year-old, whose family fled to London when he was six, provided £60,000 in funding to rebuild Udichi Primary School, which was destroyed during the long-running civil war in the country.

“We don’t want that to be the case for the kids,” said Deng. “We have a chance to change it and build more schools and help more kids and that is how we turn the country (around).”

He added: “We Sudanese should focus on the kids who need to go to school in order to become smarter than we are.”

Amanda Seller, Director of Fundraising at UNHCR Geneva, described the NBA player as an inspiration.

“Luol Deng, who was once a refugee in the West, is a wonderful example for all people … that refugees can rebuild their country when we give them hope and the means to resettle their lives,” she said. “We hope Deng’s contribution will have a great impact.”

Deng has his own charitable foundation, based in London, that targets education and welfare projects in Africa, as well as on both sides of the Atlantic.

“If I make one kid happy today, this means I have already done something," he added.


Olu Babalola in, Mike Lenzly out as 17 report for Great Britain camp

Everton Tigers forward Olu Babalola has received a last-minute invite to Great Britain’s training camp as the squad prepares to check into its training base this weekend.

The 17-strong group contains a number of first-timers and as well as losing Joel Freeland and Robert Archibald to injury, head coach Chris Finch will also have to do without Mike Lenzly after the guard’s late withdrawal.

“It is unfortunate that we have suffered a number of high profile injuries, but we now need to concentrate on the players we have available, which is still a very talented group of individuals,” said Finch. “I am really looking forward to the impact the younger guys can make, I have no doubt they have the ability to be very important to the team having worked with them during the GB Futures campaign.

“Two other absentees are Robert Archibald and Mike Lenzly. Both Rob and Mike had long seasons with their clubs, so we are unfortunately going to have to do without them this summer. Although this is a blow, we have planned accordingly and brought in cover in those position.”

Prior to the Eurobasket qualifiers, Finch’s men will take on Canada and Finland in home friendlies next week in Surrey before travelling to Israel to take part in a four-team tournament.

GB Standard Life Senior Men’s Squad List:
Achara, Kieron – Angelico Biella, ITA
Adegboye, Ogo – St Bonaventure University, USA
Babalola, Olu – Everton Tigers
Bailey, Devan – Central Connecticut University, USA
Boateng, Eric – unattached

Boyd, Flinder –Ourense, ESP

Bryan-Amaning, Matthew – University of Washington, USA

Clark, Dan – Estudiantes, ESP

Deng, Luol – Chicago Bulls, USA
Hamilton, Ashley – Loyola Marymount University, USA
Mensah-Bonsu, Pops – unattached

Reinking, Nate – Mons Hainaut, BEL

Robinson, Justin – Rider University, USA

Sullivan, Andrew – Newcastle Eagles

Toney, Tafari – Sheffield Sharks

Van Oostrum, Devon – Baskonia, ESP

Yanders, Rob – Glasgow Rocks


Friendly. Tunisia 77-52 England

A strong third period couldn't pave the way for an England victory on Thursday evening as they went down 77-52 against Tunisia in the French Summer League.

The United States will be among Tunisia's opponents in this summer's World Championships in Turkey, but England looked capable of producing a shock at the final break before eventually fading in the fourth quarter.

Coach Paul James still saw some positives in the performance of his team who were playing their third game in as many days against a side who came into the match-up fresh:

"It was another very tough game for us, but our focus was to do the little things better than we had done the day before against the Ivory Coast," he said.

"Tunisia were a much bigger and well organised team and before we new it we were down big and had a real battle on our hands - not to let the game get away from us completely.

"At half time we made some adjustments and found a unit that was able to not only hold the Tunisian team to 11 points but scored 21 points of out own. Just like the night before we had done a fantastic job as a team working extremely hard for each other to get the score to within seven with the final quarter to come.

"But like the night before though this was ten minutes too far and we were not able to sustain the level of play needed to keep the pressure on the Tunisian team, finally losing 77-52.

"Our overall performance was better with lots of positives to take from this game. David Watts and Mike Williams had very solid games again with 14 and 13 points respectively."

England were under pressure from tip, and trailed 23-10 going into the first break before at least stemming the tide in the second period as they went into the locker room at half-time 37-21 down.

A strong third quarter saw England battle back as they outscored the African side 21-11 to trail 48-41 at the final break. But that was as good as it got for James' side as they were outscored 29-11 in the final stanza.

Ben Eaves added eight for England, while Williams finished with eight rebounds in 27 minutes and Tayo Ogedegbe had six boards to go with his four points.

On the positive side for an England team who were out-rebounded 38-27, they recovered from a dismal free-throw performance the previous night to convert 72 percent of their charity shots, and Taner Adu returned from injury to score five points and dish out as many assists in 22 minutes of action.

England wrap their programme in Calais on Friday evening when they face Belgium's Under-23s. The Belgians have split their opening two games, hammering Luxembourg before losing 77-63 against Finland last night.

On the busiest night of the competition so far, Ivory Coast made short work of Luxembourg, outscoring them 27-7 in the fourth period on the way to a 99-69 victory.


Thursday, 15 July 2010

International Schedule

Friday 17 July
European Under-20 Men’s Championships (Oberwart). Austria v Great Britain (7.15). Under-20 Women (Kavadarci). Great Britain v Belgium (3.30)

Saturday 18
European Under-20 Championships, Women (Kavadarci). Great Britain v Hungary (5pm)
Friendly (Cobham). Great Britain v Portugal (7pm)

Sunday 19
European Under-20 Championships: Men (Oberwart): Great Britain v Belgium (4pm). Women (Kavadarci). Macedonia v Great Britain (6pm)
Women’s Friendly (Cobham). Great Britain v Portugal (5pm)

Tuesday 20
European Under-20 Championships, women (Kavadarci). Great Britain v Czech Rep.
Women’s Friendly (Courtrail). Great Britain v Belgium

Wednesday 21
Friendly (Cobham). Great Britain v Canada (7pm)

Friday 23
Friendly (Cobham). Great Britain v Finland (7pm). Women’s Friendly (Utrecht). Netherlands v Great Britain (7pm)

Saturday 24
Women’s Friendly (Utrecht). Netherlands v Great Britain (6pm)


James Hamilton hit with drug ban, will retire, Cheshire confirm

Cheshire Jets veteran forward James Hamilton has failed a drugs test and been issued with a four-month ban by UK Anti-Doping officials.

The American-born All-Star was found to have traces of cannabis in his system after a routine test earlier this year.

Hamilton, who will serve his suspension during the off-season, is the second Jets player to test positive for drugs on December 12 following a BBL game against Essex Pirates. John Simpson is currently in the early stages of a lengthy ban for a second doping offence, also for cannabis.

And Peter Hawkins, Jets Director, confirmed that the club’s former assistant coach will not be offered a new deal for next season and will now retire.

‘We were disappointed to learn of the outcome of James’s hearing,” said Hawkins. “It brings to an end an illustrious career both on and off the court for James with the Jets and is a really sad situation for all concerned.

“We understand that James has decided to retire from the sport. As a club we continue to strive to set the highest standards.”

In an interview with the Chester Chronicle, Hamilton, 38, claimed he took the drug at the funeral of a friend’s father, when an acquaintance offered it to him to help relieve pain caused by a broken tooth.


Damian Jennings looking for progress as GB Under-20 women begin Euro campaign

Great Britain coach Damian Jennings admits he is taking a trip into the unknown when his young women’s side face Belgium on Friday in the opening game of the European Under-20 Championships in Macedonia.

Jennings’ prospects, bidding to earn promotion to Division A, have impressed in their build-up to the tournament with a series of solid performances, sparked by a six-strong group of players with senior experience including Charlotte Stoddart and Mairi Buchan.

Despite the loss of probable starter Georgia Jones to injury, GB go into the event looking to improve on last summer’s ninth place finish – with the initial aim of ending up in the top four of a five-team group which contains Belgium and Hungary – who inflicted defeats on the British 12 months ago – as well as hosts Macedonia and the Czech Republic.

“We won four of our five warm-up games and we showed growth over each of them,” Jennings said. “We have 12 players with fantastic attitudes. The chemistry was instant. I didn’t have to do much to generate that. But the truth is I don’t know how we’ll do. Youth basketball is so cyclical. I can’t be sure what the other teams will be like because last year’s Under-20s change as players move up into the senior teams.

“It’s a tough group. Belgium and Hungary were strong last summer. You have the hosts there who we don’t know much about. And the Czechs have come down from Division A. So we’ll see how it goes and try to do the best we can.”


Friendly. England 61-82 Ivory Coast

England found World Championship finalists Ivory Coast too strong as they went down 82-61 in the second game of their French Summer League campaign, on Wednesday.

The Manchester Magic's David Watts led the scoring for Paul James' team with 14 points, but in common with their loss against Lithuania last week they were made to pay for missed foul shots.

Despite the loss against a side who will face Russia, China, Turkey, Greece and Puerto Rico at the World Championships in August, James wasn't too despondent:

"This was a step up in level from the Luxembourg game," he said. "Ivory Coast are one of two teams we are playing this week who are preparing for the World Championships in Turkey, the other being Tunisia who we play next.

"We struggled getting into any kind of rhythm offensively due to the pressure they put us under for the whole game. This was not helped by the early exit of Taner Adu two minutes into the second quarter.

"Having said that we showed plenty of character keeping the game close and taking the lead early in the third on a Ben Eaves three making the score 36-34. We continued to work hard at the defensive end with good success, but failed to convert at the offensive end under the pressure.

"It was still a five point game going into the fourth quarter when we missed four foul shots in a row whilst stopping them from scoring. We were a very poor from the foul line [10 for 23] and at this level, that's going to hurt your chances of winning any game. This was the closest we would get.

"The players should not be to down on themselves as this was a huge learning curve that we have to deal with and get through the other side as better players. David Watts had a very good game with 17 points and six rebounds. Ben Eaves, Sam Cricelli and Mike Williams had solid enough games."

Eaves was the only other England player in double figures with 13, including three from downtown, with Williams and Cricelli each adding eight.

A balanced Ivory Coast scoring effort saw Herve Lamizana and Pape-Phillipe Abouo each finish with 13, Brice Assie finishing on 12, Guy Landry on 11 and Didier Tape 10.

The African side have brought their full World Championship squad to the tournament, and they rushed into a 24-13 lead at the first break before a strong second period saw England move within two at 34-32 going into the locker room at half-time.

Eaves' score from behind the arc gave England a brief lead, and they were still in touch at the final break, trailing 52-47.

The fourth period proved to be a step too far for James' team, who were in their second game in as many days, as they were outscored 30-14 to give the final scoreline a lopsided look.

The teams proved to be equal on the boards, each pulling down 38 rebounds, but England's 23 turnovers to Ivory Coast's 18 proved crucial.

England face Tunisia on Thursday evening before wrapping up their tournament games on Friday with a game against Belgium's Under 23 team


Wednesday, 14 July 2010

European Under-20. Great Britain 79 Denmark 65

Great Britain beat Denmark 79-65 in their opening tie at the European Under-20 Championships in Macedonia. In the other group game, Austria beat Belgium 88-79.

Tim Lewis' team had already defeated the Danes 75-49 on their own court in the four-team warm-up tournament, and a strong third period set Britain on the way to a repeat victory.

Forward Ovie Soko led the way for Britain with 24 points, five steals and four rebounds, while Will Neighbour finished with 21 points, five boards and two blocks, with Alex Marcotullio adding eights points and Andrew Lawrence seven.

Jonas Bergstedt top scored for Denmark with16 points, with Mathias Seilund the only other Dane in double figures on 13.

Turnovers proved to be the key in the game, with Britain committing only 14 to Denmark's 26, and Lewis' team stole the ball 16 times to the Danes' four.

Coach Lewis was pleased with the victory; "I'm always happy with a win, it was a bit scrappy but we pulled together well, and it was a decent team effort" he said.

"It wasn't pretty, but the gym was really hot, and we just needed to get a win in our first game. We came out well in the third period, and although we dropped off a bit in the fourth, the players deserve credit for picking up again and sticking at it."

Lewis was reluctant to single out individuals, but he knows where Britain need to improve: "It was a collective effort, though Will [Neighbour] did a good job defensively, where we lacked a little on occasions."

The Danes scored the first five points of the game before a single Lawrence free-throw put GB on the scoreboard with 7:20 on the clock, and Britain took their first lead of the game with 4:19 of the first period remaining when Soko hit a pair from the charity stripe.

The game remained tight, but it was GB who took a 16-15 lead into the first break when Nigel van Oostrum converted a lay-up with 38 seconds remaining.

A good start to the second period saw Soko put GB 24-19 ahead after just over three minutes of play, but Denmark remained in touch with Thomas Laerke giving them a 27-26 lead at the midway stage of the quarter.

Neither side could pull away until a pair of Soko free-throws launched a 10-3 run to close out the half, and an Ali MacKay lay-up on the buzzer sent GB into the locker room with a 39-33 lead.

Soko opened the second half scoring from the foul line, and he continued to be key for Britain as he scored five points in an 11-2 run which saw his side open a 50-35 lead with 5:14 on the clock.

A Lawrence three-pointer saw that lead grow to 17 going into the final two minutes of the period, and with Neighbour and Van Oostrum also getting on the scoresheet, GB went into the final stanza leading 61-44.

Jakob Wang cut that lead to 15 with the first score of the fourth period, but Neighbour replied immediately replied with a lay-up, and although Denmark chipped away at the lead, Britain were still 66-54 ahead with five minutes remaining.

Four points from Will Neighbour in a 6-0 run put GB 74-56 ahead going into the final minutes to effectively wrap things up and give Britain a wining start.

European Under-20 Championships, Group C (Makarska). Great Britain 79 Denmark 65, Austria 88 Belgium 79


Jennings names Great Britain Under-20 squad

Great Britain Under-20 coach Damian Jennings has named his final 12-woman squad for the European Championships which start in Kavadarci in Macedonia on Friday.

Katrin Chiemeka
Josephine Salmon
Hannah Shaw
Mary Durojaye
Renee Busch
Rebecca Allison
Ella Clark
Charlotte Stoddart
Mairi Buchan
Kristie Sheils
Tamzin Barroilhet
Kashmere Joseph
Damian Jennings - Head Coach
Matt Johnson - Assistant Coach


Tom Maher names Great Britain squad for Euros as Mason and Gandy miss cut

Great Britain women’s coach Tom Maher has named his final 12-strong squad for next month’s Eurobasket qualifiers, and it includes two players who weren’t even in the picture when training camp began.

Australian-born EBL player of the year Natalie Stafford of Barking Abbey is in the line-up along with Canadian-born guard Rachael Vanderwal, a former Boston University standout who currently features for Irish Superleague outfit, Limerick.

Veteran duo Ros Mason and Stephanie Gandy have been cut from the GB side while Lisa Hutchinson and Meagan Hoffman have been named as reserves.

“It has been extremely difficult to select the final 14 players who will see us through the test games against Portugal, Belgium, Holland and Israel and the EuroBasket qualifying campaign," said Maher.

“I would like to thank Rosalee and Stephanie for their commitment to the GB cause this summer, but a couple of players had to miss out. We think we have selected a balanced roster in terms of experience and youth whilst also ensuring we have good cover in all positions.

“We welcome Natalie and Rachael to the Standard Life GB team. They have been on our radar for a while and we feel now is the correct time to introduce them to the roster.”

Maher’s side host Portugal in Surrey in friendlies this Saturday and Sunday.

Standard Life GB squad: Anderson, Butler, Clayden, Collins, Handy, Leedham, McKay, Page, Stafford, Stewart, Wade-Frey, Vanderwal. Reserves: Hutchinson, Hoffman


England defeat Luxembourg 91-78 in Calais

England senior men's coach Paul James was delighted as his new-look team started the Calais/Dunkerque tournament with a 91-78 victory against Luxembourg on Tuesday evening.

Captain James Jones had 16 points for England as they led from tip to buzzer and never looked back after a 30-18 first period.

"It was a little bit like starting all over again having to bring in four new players to the team, but they adapted well, picked up the plays well and did some really positive things during the game," said James.

"James Jones was once again the outstanding player with good support from Mike Williams and debutant Ross Allsop both putting in good performances.

"It was good to get back to winning ways, but just as importantly we are getting a chance to look at English talent and assess their international potential for the future. The games coming up will be a bigger test for this group of players."

Williams finished with 13 points and both Ben Eaves and Allsop each hit 12 in a balanced scoring effort as England improved their record to 3-2 for their summer season.

After that blistering start, England maintained a 12 point lead at each of the next two breaks, going in at half-time with a 47-36 advantage and reaching the final break with a 69-57 lead.

With four minutes to go England were ahead by 20, and although Luxembourg closed the gap in the closing stages, James' team wrapped up a comfortable victory.

S Picard (17) and T Schumachert (15) led the Luxembourg scoring, with Koster and Rajinak each adding ten.

Having sampled Dunkerque, England now return to Calais to face Ivory Coast tonight before facing Tunisia at the same venue on Thursday. They wrap up the competition on Friday when they play Belgium's under-23 team, again in Calais.