Monday, 29 March 2010

Cheshire's Simpson set for lengthy ban after second drug positive

Cheshire Jets guard John Simpson is set to receive an extended ban from the sport after testing positive for marijuana, following a random test. The results were discussed at a UK Anti-Doping tribunal where the punishment was imposed. It is understood there will be no appeal against the findings.

It is the second time Simpson has failed a drugs test in his career. During the 2004-5 season, the Wirral-born player tested positive for cannabis use and served a three-month ban, according to official records.

The 29-year-old, who is likely to be handed a suspension of up to two years for a repeat offence, has had his contract with the Jets terminated with immediate effect.

"John has let himself and the club down and I know he regrets what he did,” Cheshire director Peter Hawkins said. “As a club we always strive to set the highest standards of behaviour and therefore had no hesitation in terminating John’s contract.”

The BBL, which has no involvement in the testing procedure, declined to comment and did not confirm the length of Simpson's ban.


Sunday, 28 March 2010

GB set for home venue tour

Great Britain men's Eurobasket qualifiers this summer are likely to be held at Liverpool's Echo Arena, Newcastle's Metro Arena and Birmingham's NIA according to sources. With officials ruling out London's 02 Arena early in the process due to cost considerations, it seems certain that an alternative proposal to host one tie at Wembley Arena will also fail to make the cut.

It's understood there will be two double-headers with GB women in their qualifiers. Confirmation of the full schedule is expected in the next fortnight, following final consultations with coaches Chris Finch and Tom Maher


Sunday, 21 March 2010

Newcastle retain grip on BBL Trophy

Newcastle Eagles retained the BBL Trophy, producing a dominating display to defeat Cheshire Jets 111-95 in a one-sided final at the Guildford Spectrum.

Veteran Charles Smith, who won the game's Most Valuable Player award, and BBL rookie Joe Chapman, proved too hot to handle from deep with 27 and 21 points respectively as the Tyneside outfit claimed what could be the first part of a potential treble.

Jets, hoping to make a good start, certainly did that as Colin O'Reilly's three point play made it 7-0. The run seemed to spark Newcastle into life though as Lynard Stewart's bucket began a 14-0 burst.

Smith's three levelled it at 7-7 and Joe Chapman gave the Eagles their first lead of the match with a long range effort of his own. Newcastle's first quarter lead peaked at nine, first at 18-9, and then on another Chapman three to close the period 24-15.

Reggie Jackson made it a double-digit lead for Eagles with his first points of the match at the start of the second quarter before 40-year-old Shawn Myers dragged Jets - minus injured James Hamilton - back into the match with two three point scores which reduced the gap to just three at 29-26.

However Eagles quickly recovered their dominance though midway through the second quarter as their rivals' challenge collapsed, the holders breaking the game open with a 35-16 run. It was a devastating passage of play by Fab Flournoy's team and left Jets staring at a daunting 64-42 half time deficit.

Smith began the third quarter with a three to reinforce Eagles' superiority and despite Jets occasionally picking apart the Newcastle defence they couldn't stem the flow of points from their opponents.

With Newcastle taking an 89-63 margin into the final stanza, there was no way back with Cheshire stars Jerrah Young, Paul Peterson and Calvin Davis all well below their best.

Fab Flournoy's men saw their advantage peak at 100-69 on yet another Smith bucket early in the fourth quarter. Despite trying to recapture the magic of their epic comeback in vain against Sheffield Sharks in the BBL Cup, Jets could only get the final deficit below 20 thanks to a late 6-0 run.

The evergreen Myers scored a game-high 28 points but his efforts were in vain as Newcastle coasted to lift the Trophy for the fourth time in six years.


Saturday, 20 March 2010

BBL Trophy final: Smith wary of Newcastle's S-Factor

Newcastle Eagles will bid to lift the BBL Trophy for the third consecutive time when they meet Cheshire on Sunday in the final at the Guildford Spectrum.

The two clubs have dominated the competition during the last decade, winning seven of the last nine editions. However Cheshire coach Paul Smith is wary that the recent return of Great Britain captain Andrew Sullivan to the Tyneside giants could tip the balance.

“There’s probably been 2-3 seasons where we’ve been nowhere near them but this year, I’ve felt we’re getting closer,” said Smith.

“The biggest difference in the last month is that they’ve added Sullivan and we need to find a way to deal with him. But I still see where they have weaknesses we can exploit.”

Newcastle, on a 15-game winning streak following Friday's win over Worthing, have been told not to rest on their laurels despite their run.

"That means nothing," Chapman added. "The reason we're winning is because we play hard every night and Sunday can't be any different."


Friday, 19 March 2010

Rob Yanders: Season could be over

Glasgow Rocks captain Rob Yanders has admitted he faces a battle to be fit in time for the BBL play-offs after being ruled out for at least another month.

The American, who has already missed the side’s last four games, underwent further tests on his injured shoulder yesterday.

And doctors have warned the point guard that his season might be over if he fails to recover quickly.

Yanders said: “The X-rays showed up damage to my shoulder, chest and ribs. They’ve said it’s now going to be a minimum of four weeks but I could be done for the year.

“It’s not because of the pain. They don’t want me to rush back in case I suffer permanent damage. The doctor says I’m a fast healer and I’m getting treatment every day. In my own mind, I want to be fit and prepared for the play-offs so I’m just hoping the guys can keep hold of that top-three spot without me.”


Thursday, 18 March 2010

Two Brits preparing for March Madness

Two British players are involved in this year's NCAA men's college tournament which tips off on Thursday night.

Matthew Bryan-Amaning will start for the University of Washington, who will be underdogs in their first round meeting with Marquette. The Londoner is averaging 8.9 points and 5.9 rebounds in a much-improved junior season. MBA enters March Madness in the best form of his career, averaging 12.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg, shooting 61.5% and 1.4 bpg over his last 11 contests for the Pac-10 champions.

Fellow Londoner Hugh Barnett will likely warm the bench as Arkansas-Pine Bluff, who took a a 61-44 victory over Winthrop in the play-in game for the 64th and final spot on Tuesday, take on the mighty Duke University.


James prepares to turn Heat on former club

Worcester Wolves coach Paul James has admitted it will be a special occasion when he faces former club Guildford on Saturday.

James was abruptly fired last summer after leading the Heat to every major honour during their first four years in existence, before returning to the BBL with the Wolves three months ago.

“There will be some emotion there because of some great friendships developed with some of the supporters who will be at the game and some of the players too,” he said. “I think it might be more emotional for the supporters because of what they had in recent years.”

A win for the hosts would see them overtake Guildford in the race to catch Worthing for the eighth and final play-off spot. Yet James insists it won’t be a grudge match.

“They are a different club now, going in a different direction,” he declared.

“All my focus at the moment is on trying to develop and bring success to the Worcester Wolves moving forward.”


Eagles move to Northumbria not yet certain

Newcastle Eagles planned move to a new 3000-seater venue at Northumbria University is not yet a done deal, according to club chief Paul Blake.

The league champions were expected to switch homes at the beginning of next season after spending their entire history at the 6500-capacity Metro Arena.

Blake has long believed that the change would provide the Eagles with the extra revenues they need to enter European competition but he admits talks are still ongoing.

“From a sporting perspective it’s an absolute no-brainer because it is a unique sporting facility,” Blake told The Journal.

“They have laid the floor and some of the seats this week and it is an unbelievable venue, there is no doubt about that. But now our job is trying to make sure that the other elements make sense.”


Monday, 15 March 2010

Euroleague All-Decade team announced

The Euroleague has chosen its All-Decade Team following voting from media and fans.
Dejan Bodiroga, Dimitris Diamantidis, J. R. Holden, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Trajan Langdon, Juan Carlos Navarro, Theo Papaloukas, Anthony Parker, Ramunas Siskauskas and Nikola Vujcic make up the elte squad from more than 125,000 ballots and 1.25 million total votes on-line as well as 35 media experts who followed the Euroleague.
Five players on the list were full-season MVPs, some of whom are also among the five Final Four MVPs included. The 10 players selected had previously been named to the All-Euroleague teams a total of 20 times, 15 on the first team and 5 on the second team. They also made a total of 42 Final Four appearances between them.

Dejan Bodiroga: The most dominant player to start the decade, Bodiroga earned every imaginable accolade – including back-to-back Euroleague titles as Final Four MVP with Panathinaikos in 2002 and Barcelona in 2003 – before retiring as a legend in 2007.

Dimitris Diamantidis: A game-changing performer even without the ball, Diamantidis has owned the Best Defender Award since joining the Euroleague in 2004 and anchored Panathinaikos title teams in 2007 and 2009, the former as Final Four MVP.

J. R. Holden: An great scorer, lockdown defender and leader, Holden has been the steadiest of stars all decade. His seven consecutive Final Fours with CSKA tie a record, while Euroleague titles in 2006 and 2008 assure his place in the elite.

Sarunas Jasikevicius: His titles with Barcelona in 2003, Maccabi in 2004 and 2005 - the latter as Final Four MVP - and Panathinaikos in 2009 make Jasikevicius the decade's most-crowned player and the first ever to win with three different teams.

Trajan Langdon: A shooting superstar and rock-solid winner, Langdon lifted the continental trophy with CSKA in 2006 and 2008, when he was chosen Final Four MVP. He played in five title games and was selected All-Euroleague three times.

Juan Carlos Navarro: A favorite son who helped seize Barcelona's first, long-awaited crown in 2003, Navarro has since become an All-Euroleague selection twice, the 2009 MVP and the decade's fourth-ranked player in points, three-pointers and performance rating.

Theo Papaloukas: Arguably the most accomplished sixth man in pro basketball history, Papaloukas reached seven straight Final Fours, won the 2006 and 2008 titles with CSKA, was named 2007 MVP and ranks first for the decade in assists and steals.

Anthony Parker: As back-to-back champion with Maccabi in 2004 and 2005, Parker dominated the competition while twice being voted the Euroleague MVP and once the Final Four MVP. He posted the best per-game performance rating all decade.

Ramunas Siskauskas: Three finals appearances in his first five Euroleague seasons led to Siskauskas winning rare back-to-back titles with two different teams, Panathinaikos in 2007 and CSKA in 2008, the season in which he was also named Euroleague MVP.

Nikola Vujcic: The most versatile of big men, Vujcic reached four finals, won the 2004 and 2005 titles with Maccabi, and was voted All-Euroleague five times. He also authored the decade's only triple-doubles and ranks first in overall performance rating.


Thursday, 11 March 2010

1000 FT for Sport Relief

Two basketballers from Glasgow are launching an attempt to score 1000 free throws in 3 hours to raise as much money as possible for Sport Relief.

Lee Phillips and Kevin Rasdale will attempt the feat at Springburn Leisure Centre on March 20 in aid of the charity.

The pair have already secured support from basketballscotland, the Glasgow Rocks, Culture and Sport Glasgow, Glasgow Storm Basketball Club, but are looking for support through donations and raffle prizes in a bid to smash their £1000 goal.

Their feat can be tracked on Facebook with pledges available here on their fund-raising pages.


Jivens urges BBL to give London Capital another shot

London Capital coach Milek Jivens has urged the BBL not to eject his club from the league this summer, despite yet another campaign at the bottom of the standings.

Multiple sources within the BBL have suggested that the struggling franchise will again be put on review amid ongoing concerns over its financial viability off the court and its competitiveness on it.

That, says Jivens, would be a mistake. He believes huge strides have been made since 12 months ago when league bosses sent in a small task force to improve matters behind the scenes. Now London has three full-time players and a more settled rotation than the whoever-turns-up approach that plagued their previous campaign. While they remain a dead-cert victory for the leading teams, the American views a platform that should be developed, rather than ripped apart.

“I don’t think we play bad basketball,” said Jivens. “We’re still exciting. It’s just the consistency of it. It would be a big loss. London needs a basketball team. London needs a couple of basketball teams. But it’s expensive so it’s hard to keep a team going.

“It needs it though, not just for a business standpoint, but also for the kids so they can have something to look up to. You’ve got the Division One clubs and the D2 ones. But kids want to see players from America or elsewhere abroad.”

Counting against the Capital is the tiny crowds the club have attracted to Willesden during their top-flight existence, often amounting to three men and a small dog. With the 2012 Olympics on the horizon, BBL chiefs concede they need a shop window in the capital to attract sponsors and media – and attain credibility. That, however, may require time and money.

“It would be beneficial because the spotlight is there,” Jivens observes. “When the Towers and Leopards were here, there was a big light on them. Now they’re shying away from us a bit. They’re saying ‘that’s the dark team of the league’. It would be huge to establish us because you have so many communities in London. You can hit all kinds of targets in London.“

With less than two months of the season left, are we seeing the last embers of the Capital’s flame? Teams who finish in the bottom two have, under league rules, no protection against being voted out by a majority on the board. While it is unlikely London can haul themselves, statistically, to safety, Jivens is hoping that performances on the floor can strengthen the case for survival.

“We want to improve on last year but we already have three wins which is one more than last season,” the American said. “But I want us to play good basketball towards the end so we have something to build on. We’re learning from all our scrapping. It’s better than being blown out every time. It’s more worthwhile.”


Flournoy sticking with rotation policy

Newcastle Eagles coach Fabulous Flournoy has claimed his decision to bring some of his leading players off the bench is a key reason why his team have now moved into the position of BBL favourites.
The leaders have used Joe Chapman and Charles Smith as sixth men during the 12-game winning streak that has taken them to the top of the league – and into the Trophy final.
Flournoy’s men meet Milton Keynes on Friday in what could be a dress rehearsal for this month’s knock-out finale and the New Yorker has no intention of changing his star-second policy.
“There is no one reason that I bring Charles and Joe off the bench,” he said. “At some point in time, everyone on our team has started. Unlike most teams, where you have players that start, we have players that can start or come off the bench and it is not an issue because everyone on our team wants to win.”
He added” “It is one of the reasons we are so successful - because we have some many guys that can hurt you that you can not concentrate on one. Plus, unlike most of the other teams, our players are playing half the minutes everyone else is and are much more productive.”


Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Garbelotto wants Tigers to bare claws

Tony Garbelotto has challenged his players to overcome the disappointment of last weekend’s double defeat in order to breathe new life into his side’s play-off hopes.
Last Friday the Tigers were knocked out of the BBL Trophy after a tense 2nd leg semi final against Newcastle Eagles.
That was followed up on Sunday evening with a defeat in the BBL to potential play-off rivals Worcester Wolves.
This weekend offers an opportunity to put those results behind them at Worthing Thunder on Saturday before travelling to high flying Sheffield Sharks on Monday evening.
Garbelotto sees the game as a chance to put a few things right from last weekend, with stopping the Thunder's talismanic Reggie Bratton being a high priority:
“It is tough to say how we will match up with Worthing, as we were very lucky in the last game against them. They are as talented offensively as anyone in the league, and we are going to have to start playing with some real fight and spirit if we want to win this type of game.”
The Tigers will take confidence into the game in the steel city on Monday from the fact they won the last time out against Sheffield 73-61 at the Echo Arena.
Whilst that game's leading scorer, Flo Larkai, has departed from Merseyside, Garbelotto, has since added former League MVP Trey Moore, British guard Adam Williams and American Marcel Jones, to his roster.
The Tigers play-caller knows that at this stage of the campaign results are paramount if the Tigers are to reach the end of season shake up in good form:
“We want to prove to ourselves and our fans that despite the knocks we’ve taken recently we still have a lot to play for this season and we intend on focussing all our efforts on ending the season on a high.”


British basketballers escape medal demands

Basketball is among a handful of sports that have been told they will not be expected to win medals for Great Britain at major championships by the national agency that controls funding.

UK Sport have set out a number of targets in the lead-up to the 2012 Olympics Games - with cycling and rowing handed the toughest assignments.

However basketball - along with handball, judo, volleyball and hockey - have been asked to deliver on other criteria with qualification for GB's men and women at the European Championship deemed a more realistic proposition.

UK Sport sets medal ranges with sports as part of their funding agreement and to benchmark the progress each sport is making on the world stage. Based on reasoned analysis and evidence, they highlight both the best possible outcome at an agreed event for the coming year in terms of athlete performance, and the point below which the sport will judge itself to have under-performed.

The announcement came as the latest set of ‘Mission 2012’ submissions, which track the latest state of play across all areas of the UK high performance system, indicated continued positive progression towards London 2012. Fifteen sports were rated as ‘green’ overall (nine Olympic and six Paralympic), and no sports were on ‘red’ on the tracker boards held at UK Sport’s London headquarters. UK Sport’s Mission 2012 system is now over two years old and is starting to make a significant difference in terms of identifying issues and problems faced by sports, and finding solutions to overcome them.

John Steele, UK Sport’s Chief Executive, said: “The targets we have agreed with the sports are challenging but are indicative of the gradual increase in momentum towards London 2012. On paper, it is impossible to compare with the target of the previous 12 months as there are fewer World Championships in 2010, so the targets include European Championships, Commonwealth Games and World Cups in a number of sports. However, we know that if these targets are achieved they will signify a stepping up in performances and further progression towards achieving our overall aspirations in 2012. Having such targets in places allows us and the sports to chart this progress and are a well-established part of any successful high performance sport system.

“Over the course of the summer season we will hit the half-way point between Beijing and London – which psychologically starts to sharpen the mind even more. Mission 2012 is generally showing us that the sports are on track in terms of their systems and structures, and the overall picture this paints is encouraging.

“It is essential this continues and indeed further improves if we are to achieve our performance aspirations in 2012. That is where the true value of Mission 2012 comes into its own by continuing to ensure that the sports scrutinise their own operations, raise any issues and work with UK Sport and its partners to overcome potential obstacles.”


Crowell hails Rocks charge

Glasgow Rocks forward Mike Crowell has insisted that his side is winning on the court because they’re spending more time bonding off it.

The Kelvin Hall outfit’s five victories in a row – by an average of 19 points - has opened up the possibility of pushing for second place – and receiving home advantage in the BBL play-offs.

And Crowell reckons the way in which the Rocks worked their way together through some tricky early season losses is now paying dividends.

The American said: “The chemistry is coming together and that’s why we’re winning right now. Plus we’re defending better and that creates a better offense in turn. We’re stopping teams, making it difficult for them to score, and that’s why we’re getting easy wins. But it’s not easy to accomplish. We’ve worked hard to get here, sweating it out every day.”


NBA set for London decision

The NBA could be set to bring the Detroit Pistons, and their British-born star Ben Gordon, to the UK for a friendly later this year. A number of teams are understood to be in the frame to play in London in October.

'Together with the Euroleague, we are at the advanced stages of discussions with several host cities and teams,” NBA Europe chief Sophie Goldschmidt confirmed.

“We plan to announce the teams and cities for NBA Europe Live 2010 in the coming weeks.”


Thursday, 4 March 2010

Everton complete Marcel Jones signing

Everton Tigers have beaten the buzzer to bolster their BBL play-off charge with the signing of highly-rated forward Marcel Jones.

The club was granted an extension to the BBL’s transfer window to land the American ahead of the deadline after a paperwork delay.

The 24-year-old arrives on Merseyside having spent last summer with the Manawatu Jets in New Zealand having previously enjoyed spells in Finland and Hungary. He also featured for the Chicago Bulls in the 2008 NBA summer league in Orlando.

The 6ft 8in forward grew up in Los Angeles, California, before playing college basketball for Oregon State University.

Tony Garbelotto, Tigers head coach, said Jones will help the Tigers push for honours on all fronts and will bring them an extra dimension.

He said: “We have been searching for a while now to replace Flo Larkai and I feel we have signed the best player available in the short time that we had.

“Marcel is not a like-for-like replacement for Flo but he will bring qualities to the squad that we have been missing in recent weeks.

“He has all the attributes you need to be a success in the BBL, and his ability to operate at both ends of the court will be a huge benefit to the team as a whole.”

Jones is in line to make his Tigers debut on Friday evening as the Newcastle Eagles arrive at the Greenbank Academy for the crunch BBL Trophy semi final second leg.

The Tigers have confirmed they will not appeal against the one-match ban imposed on Trey Moore, meaning the American will sit out the tie.


Andre Alleyne jailed

England Under-18 coach, and well-known Channel Five pundit, Andre Alleyne has been jailed for 30 months after sexually abusing a 14-year-old schoolgirl.

The 41-year-old, who was working at Archbishop Lanfranc School in London at the time of the incident, pleaded guilty to four charges at Croydon Crown Court.

Alleyne, formerly also a coach at Milton Keynes Lions and Manchester Giants, was arrested on October 2 last year after police officers discovered emails he sent the girl on a computer seized from his home.

The judge said: "It’s long been the view of the courts in cases of this type that the courts must focus on the protection of the children and young people and that can only be done by passing sentences which are sufficient to deter men from acting in this sort of fashion.”