Friday, 30 April 2010

ESPN to screen Euroleague Final 4

The Euroleague Final Four will be shown live from Paris on ESPN.

ESPN's service will include live broadcast of the first semifinal on Friday May 7, between FC Barcelona and CSKA Moscow, as well as live coverage of the title game on Sunday, May 9. On Sky Sports, viewers will be treated to follow-up shows featuring the best of the weekend's action and stories in separate programs devoted to the semifinals and the title game.

"We are delighted that basketball fans in the United Kingdom will have a great choice of broadcasters with which to follow the Final Four, so I would like to thank both ESPN and SKY TV for their great interest," said Andrea Bassani, the Director of TV for Euroleague Basketball.
"Besides the fact that these agreements expand our coverage to a record number of countries, 194, we think that fans in the UK will love our brand of basketball now and in the future."


Paul Mokeski added to GB men's coaching staff

Chris Finch's assistant at NBA D-League champions, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, is to join his staff with the Great Britain team this summer.

Paul Mokeski will team up with Nick Nurse and Tim Lewis on the bench for the Eurobasket qualifiers.

"We're excited to bring him on board, considering what he has to offer. I've gotten to work with him this year, and the results are fairly obvious. I think he'll fit in well with our staff," said Finch.

Mokeski played in the NBA as a centre for the Milwaukee Bucks before retiring. He was an assistant coach at the Charlotte Bobcats two seasons ago.

"I'm excited about continuing my work with Coach Finch and to be given the opportunity to get more international experience," he said. "Last year I was with the Jamaican National Team and really enjoyed it."


Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Chris Finch savours D-League title

Great Britain coach Chris Finch has guided the Rio Grande Vipers to the NBA D-League Championship in his first season at the helm.

The Texas-based team, operated by the Houston Rockets, beat the Tulsa 66ers 94-91 on Tuesday to win the series 2-0. The victory is expected to further raise Finch's stock and justifies his decision to quit the Belgian League last summer to return to the USA.

And the ex-Sheffield boss believes he has improved for the experience.

"This year has been about expanding my basketball knowledge," he said. "Me and my staff in the NBA D-League have a had the chance to have several NBA players on our team, and being able to integrate their experience into the European game I'm used to coaching has given me great perspective.

"NBA D-League and NBA basketball is much more game intensive, rather than preparation intensive, and I've actually grown as an in-game coach.There are more timeouts, I have more control of the game. I'm a better in-game coach than I have been before."


Tuesday, 27 April 2010

BBL moves closer to Sky deal

The British Basketball League is set to return to television next season after bosses opened talks with Sky Sports.

The BBL, who had a brief spell on the defunct Setanta channels, has been desperate to find a long-term TV deal to boost its fortunes since it was hit by the demise of ITV Digital in 2002.

“We’ve agreed a deal with the company who already produce ice hockey and netball for Sky Sports,” revealed BBL chairman Paul Blake. “We probably missed an opportunity to get some exposure for the end of this season but we’re continuing to talk about next year.”

The proposed deal is understood to involve a regular highlight show rather than live coverage.

Clubs are also considering a draft plan that would see the BBL Trophy move to the start of the season, away from its traditional berth in the spring time. No timescale has been set for a decision on the idea.


Nick Nurse left up in the air by coaching flight

Great Britain assistant coach Nick Nurse only had one reaction when he heard the man who hired him four days ago had handed in his resignation. "Wow!"

Nurse accepted the assistant coach's position at Iowa State University last Thursday, leaving the NBA D-League's Iowa Energy to re-join his former college team-mate Greg McDermott.

But on Sunday, his old acquaintance accepted a new gig in charge of Creighton, leaving Nurse's role up in the air.

McDermott has endorsed Nurse as his successor after calling him to break the news.

However the president of Iowa Energy, has already offered the ex-Manchester and Brighton coach his old job back.

"Why wouldn’t we want to keep him?” Crawford told The Register. “He has the best winning percentage of any coach in the league for the last two years.”


Monday, 26 April 2010

GB women's coach Tom Maher names 17 for summer's Euro campaign

Great Britain women's head coach Tom Maher has selected his initial 17-strong squad for his debut campaign leading the senior team as they look to qualify for the Eurobasket finals, which will be held in Poland in 2011.

The roster includes a mixture of experience and emerging talent ahead of what will be a tough campaign where they will play Slovakia, Germany and Ukraine home and away. Experienced campaigners like Rosalee Mason, Meagan Hoffman, Stephanie Collins and Kim Butler will be joined by such players as Johannah Leedham, who was picked 27th in round three of the WNBA draft, and Scottish starlet Rose Anderson.

"I have now been in the position long enough to enable me to assess the roster and work out what I needed to bring in for the forthcoming campaign. I think the balance we have between experience and emerging talent should provide us with the correct mix for what will be a challenging summer programme. It is disappointing we have recently lost Yemi (Oyefuwa) to injury as she would have made the roster this season, however we wish her well for a speedy recovery." said Maher.

In preparation of the campaign, camp will commence on 4 June at a training base in Stirling before a number of friendlies, two of which will be at Surrey University, and away fixtures in Belgium, Holland and Israel. All the test fixtures will supersede the competitive Eurobasket schedule which gets underway on 14 August at home to Slovakia.

"We have brought the roster in earlier than usual so we can get as much time together before the games get underway. This is an important summer for the team, so we need to be 100% prepared for what is going to be an intensive summer of basketball" continued Maher.

GB men's and women's teams will stage two double headers in Birmingham and Liverpool on the 14 and 26 August. The other women's game will be hosted at the new basketball venue at Surrey University.

GB women's roster:

Anderson, Rose - University Central Oklahoma, USA
Butler, Kim - Panionios, Greece
Butters, Kate - UWIC Archers, EBL
Collins, Stephanie - UWIC Archers, EBL
Gandy, Stephanie - City of Sheffield Hatters, EBL
Handy, Chantelle - Marshall University, USA
Hoffman, Meagan - UWIC Archers, EBL
Hutchinson, Lisa - City of Sheffield Hatters, EBL
Leedham, Johannah - Franklin Pierce University, USA
Mason, Rosalee - City of Sheffield Hatters, EBL
McKay, Sarah - Unattached
Page, Julie - Pays d'Aix Basket 13, France
Stewart, Azania - Florida University, USA
Johnson-Thomas, Lauren - Marquette University, USA
Wade-Frey, Jeneya - University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, USA
Claydon, Jo - Leeds Carnegie, EBL
Wood, Joanne - Sandringham Sabres, Australia


25.06 - Bulgaria v GB Standard Life Women, Pravets Bulgaria (Friendly)
26.06 - Bulgaria v GB Standard Life Women, Pravets Bulgaria (Friendly)
27.06 - Bulgaria v GB Standard Life Women, Pravets Bulgaria (Friendly)
17.07 - GB Women v Portugal, Surrey University (Friendly)
18.07 - GB Women v Portugal, Surrey University (Friendly)
20.07 - Belgium v GB Women, Courtrai Belgium (Friendly)
21.07 - Belgium v GB Women, Courtrai Belgium (Friendly)
24.07 - Holland v GB Women, Utrecht Holland(Friendly)
25.07 - Holland v GB Women, Utrecht Holland(Friendly)
03.08 - Israel v GB Women, Tel Aviv Israel (Friendly)
04.08 - Israel v GB Women, Tel Aviv Israel (Friendly)
05.08 - Israel v GB Women, Tel Aviv Israel (Friendly)
14.08 - GB Women v Slovak Republic, NIA Birmingham (Eurobasket Qualifier)
17.08 - Germany v GB Women, Wolfenbuttel Germany (Eurobasket Qualifier)
20.08 - GB Women v Ukraine, Surrey University (Eurobasket Qualifier)
23.08 - Slovak Republic v GB Women, Slovak Republic (Eurobasket Qualifier)
26.08 - GB Women v Germany, Echo Arena Liverpool (Eurobasket Qualifier)
29.08 - Ukraine v GB Women, Dnipropetrovsk Ukraine (Eurobasket Qualifier)


Friday, 23 April 2010

Chad McKnight out as Heat coach

Chad McKnight, as expected, will not return as player-coach of the Guildford Heat next season after the club missed the play-offs in what has turned out to be his sole campaign in charge.

The American could, however, return solely as a player after being offered a tentative deal although it is understood he has yet to make a decision on his future.

The Heat have also confirmed that Julius Joseph and Mike Martin have accepted new one-year contracts to continue when their side moves to its new home at Surrey Sports Park, according to owner Alan McClafferty.

“Everyone is disappointed with our team performance this season. But we need to regroup and be more competitive next season," he said. "One change next season is Chad McKnight is stepping down as player-coach but I am hoping he will return as a key player. We are delighted to have re-signed Julius Joseph along with Mike Martin - two of the top ten British basketball players - and intend to use the summer period to recruit exceptionally talented players to join them in our BBL team.”

Mike Davies, the Heat's GM, admitted that losses had been made this season despite cutbacks last summer.

“Like all businesses in the current climate we have conducted a stringent review of our budgets," Davies revealed. "We have attracted a large amount of sponsors, thanks to the success of the Heat Business Club, the usual government funding which we had expected, was not available this year. This has put huge pressure on the club financially all of which has had to be covered by the owner.”


Thursday, 22 April 2010

Scotland to meet Norway this weekend

A visit from perennial European Division B side Norway will give the Scotland's senior men side a rare chance to pit their wits against European opposition this weekend in their preparation for their European Campaign in Malta later this year.

The clashes - at The Peak Centre in Stirling - are the first senior international matches for Scotland’s men since 2008 - and the first under new head coach Tom Campbell.

The first friendly tips off at 5.30pm on Saturday with Sunday's tie at 3pm but the Scots will be without captain Gareth Murray.


Nurse confirms University of Iowa move

Great Britain assistant coach Nick Nurse has joined the University of Iowa today as Assistant Coach.

The ex-Manchester and London boss will step down as head coach of the NBA D-League's Iowa Energy after being tempted by a reunion with former college team-mate, Cyclone coach Greg McDermott.

“This is the perfect opportunity to broaden my experience in the college game,” said Nurse in a statement. “I loved my time in professional basketball, especially with the Energy.”

Before coaching the Energy, Nurse spent nine years coaching four teams in the British Basketball League, as well as a stint in Belgium.

He is expected to remain with the GB programme for this summer's Eurobasket.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Plymouth boosted by job interest

Plymouth Raiders chairman Bob Widdecombe has revealed that the club have received over 20 applications for their head coaching vacancy since it was announced incumbent Gary Stronach was quitting the post at the end of the season.

The Devon outfit, who missed the BBL play-offs, have seen expressions of interest from all over the world, including ex-national team bosses - and a leading female coach from Brazil.

“We have to temper our excitement with the importance of appointing the right person for the job,” added Widdecombe. “There’s an awful lot to consider, and the last thing we want is someone who comes in for a year, and is gone again, leaving us to go through the recruitment process again this time next year. We’re determined to get back among the BBL’s elite teams, so we’ll be talking to the coaches that we decide to shortlist about how they would go about building a team for the medium to long term, and their contacts within the game.

"As it is with players, it’s important that we get a good person, as well as a good coach. We have a fantastic reputation throughout the UK and our own franchise area here in Devon and Cornwall, so it’s important to us that this is maintained and even built on.”

Plymouth will hold a board meeting on Thursday to discuss how to fill the club's first coaching vacancy in over a decade.


Monday, 19 April 2010

Ryan Richards enters NBA Draft

Great Britain Under-20 forward Ryan Richards has decided to enter the nBA Draft, according to reports in Spain.

The 18-year-old from Kent is currently under contract with Gran Canaria but has been on loan this in the Swiss League with Monthey, averaging 13.3ppg and 5.2rpg.

The decision of Richards, who spent a disappointing season with Mons of Belgium before returning to Spain, is considered a surprise given his lack of top-level experience.

His agents will be Herb Rudoy and Ronald Shade.


Saturday, 17 April 2010

Newcastle Eagles are BBL champions

Newcastle Eagles have been crowned as BBL champions for the fourth time in five seasons after one of the most dramatic title climaxes in years.
Rivals Sheffield Sharks needed to beat Worthing on Saturday to force the Tyneside outfit to overcome Glasgow 24 hours later to snatch the crown on the head to head tiebreaker.

But the Thunder, who led by as much as 20 points at one stage, held off a late Sharks rally to clinch a 97-95 victory that handed the Eagles the title.

In the play-off race, Everton's 108-86 win at Essex means the Tigers finish fifth and will visit Cheshire in the 1st Round of the play-offs. Glasgow Rocks host Leicester while Sheffield meet MK Lions. Newcastle will meet Worthing after the Thunder beat Plymouth 108-99 in an overtime thriller to snatch the final play-off berth. .

Friday, 16 April 2010

BBL announce (part of) All Star line-ups

The BBL have unveiled part of the league's All Star Game line-up for Birmingham next month - in the middle of the most enthralling conclusion to the season in years.

So we now know that included, in what many players now regard as an utterly meaningless prelude to the BBL play-off final, will be:

UK: Taner Adu, Gareth Murray, Anthony Martin, Julius Joseph, Ibrahim Gariba.

Rest of the World: Rob Yanders, Randy George, Milek Jivens

We await the remainder of the teams with baited breath.


Pete Jacques: an appreciation

Pete Jacques, one of the most respected members of the press benches in British basketball, tragically passed away today (April 16) after a brief illness.

For over a decade, the former teacher edited Pawprint online, and before that as a fanzine, while juggling myriad commitments behind the scenes and front of house at Doncaster Panthers, Durham Wildcats and assorted other basketball events.

Always full of good humour, infectious enthusiasm and a deep passion for the sport, he will be much missed by all those who knew him whether through listening to him on a microphone or reading his words.

Fittingly, his last words online declared: "I’ve enjoyed every minute of the last ten years, Hope you have." The answer, resoundingly, is yes.

Pete leaves behind a wife, Pauline, and daughter, Lucy.


Great Britain name Under 20 Euro squads

Great Britain Under-20 coaches Tim Lewis and Damian Jennings have revealed their junior men's and women's squads for this summer’s European B Division tournaments.

The men will play three games in Austria with the women playing four in Macedonia. The U20 men will see the likes Jamel Anderson, Will Neighbor and Myles Hesson returning while Ryan Richards is also included along side 6’10 Scottish forward Ali McKay and guard Alex Marcotullio who plays for Northwestern University.

Men’s U20 Head Coach Tim Lewis said: "We know this is a very challenging schedule for the team, but we can’t wait to get started. We are obviously looking forward to the games, but it will be great to integrate all the boys, both new and old, when training camp starts in June.”

For the first time British Basketball will be doing a combined camp for the first four days of training.

"It will be great to hook up with the women’s U20’s, as they have a similarly demanding summer to us. I have no doubt myself and Damian will be bouncing ideas off each other,” said Lewis.

The U20 women will be lead for the first time by senior women’s assistant coach and UWIC head coach Damian Jennings. Senior caps Mairi Buchan and Georgia Jones join the likes of Nicky Avery and Ruth Davison in returning for another campaign.
Jennings said” "I am personally looking forward to working with this age group for the first time alongside my role as Assistant Coach to the GB senior team. The U20’s really is British Basketball’s University playground, so my staff and I carry a great responsibility in educating and embedding a GB culture that will in-turn respectfully place us in the eye’s of Europe as contenders at this age group and set our players up if indeed a select few are given the senior nod in the future.

“For now we must do all we can to ensure GB U20’s achieve their best in Kavadarci (Macedonia) this summer. We have an extremely tough group firstly with a Division A relegation country in Czech Republic, Division B 3rd and 7th place finishers in Belgium & Hungary respectively, and the host nation Macedonia - the group stage, and our start is key to us reaching our potential.”

Performance Director, Chris Spice, added: "It is great to see the standard of player selected for the respective rosters, it is an encouraging sign that the future of British Basketball can be found across top colleges and clubs throughout the world.”

Lawrence, Andrew – University of Charlotte
Noel, Levi – Notre Dame Prep School
Van Oustrum, Nigel – Franklin Pierce University
Marcotullio, Alex – Northwestern University
Stannard, Jack – Bristol Flyers
Houghton, Josh – Manchester Magic
Thompson, Jack – Milton Keynes Lions
Pereira, Tom – Derby
Gachette, Zach – Essex Pirates
Hesson Myles – Birmingham A’s
Gilchrist, Robert – Worcester Academy
Martin, Ryan – Westminster Warriors
Anderson, Jamel – Essex Pirates
Thompson, May Raheem – Quinnipiac University
Neighbor, Will – Daytona Junior College
Soko, Ovie – UAB
Hall, Will – Deerfield Academy
Awosanya, Larry – Campbell University
Rolls Tyson, Josh – Birmingham University
McKay, Ali – Essex Pirates
Goldsborough, Lee – Manchester Magic
Richards, Ryan – Gran Canaria
Olasensi, Abodurin - UCBA

Woods, Erica – Marshall University
Avery, Nicky - UWIC Archers
Bardsley, Kelsey - Manchester Mystics
Barroilhet, Tamzin - Bourges
Buchan, Mairi - Old Dominion University
Campbell, Naomi – Sheffield Hatters
Colley, Julia - University of Bridgeport
Davison, Ruth - Northumbria
Durojaye, Mary - Robert Morris University
Joseph, Kashmere - Seton Hall University
Shaw, Hannah - University of Miami
Stoddart, Charlotte - Manchester Mystics
Charles, Krystal – Eckerd College
James, Rachel – LSBU & Brixton Topcats
Salmon Josephine – Barking Abbey
Shiels, Kristie – Leeds Carnegie
Hayward, Deanne – Leeds Carnegie
Jones, Georgia – Oral Roberts
Allison, Rebecca – Old Dominion
Chiemeka, Katrin – Davidson
Clark, Ella – Barking Abbey
Busch, Renee - Sevenoaks Suns
Brough, Rebecca – UWIC Archers
Taylor Kathryn – Kent Prep School


Thursday, 15 April 2010

Gary Stronach to quit as Plymouth Raiders coach

Plymouth Raiders have confirmed that long-serving head coach Gary Stronach is to leave the club after 24 years. The Sunderland-born playcaller, who also played 356 games for the Raiders before moving full-time to the bench in 1999, will depart after the final match of the BBL season, on Sunday, against Worthing Thunder.

Stronach, who was thought to be frustrated at the budget cuts imposed last summer, has confirmed he took the decision to seek a fresh challenge within basketball, revealing that the idea "has been brewing for a few years." The search will now begin for a new man to re-build Plymouth ahead of the new campaign. It is likely the Devon side will follow the budgetary lead of many of their rivals and appoint a player-coach to fill the vacancy created by the move although club sources confirmed no decision on that issue has yet been made. Current assistant Gavin Love is expected to be among the candidates.

“I’ve had an absolutely fantastic career as a player, player-coach and head coach of Plymouth,” said Stronach, who revealed he rejected an offer to coach in Belgium three years ago. “I’ve made many friends and acquaintances over my 24 years. I feel the time is now right for me to pursue another challenge at this stage of my career.”

Arguably Stronach’s proudest moment as coach of the Raiders was lifting the BBL Trophy in 2007 following several EBL successes. He was also in charge when the Raiders made the jump from England Basketball’s Division One to the fully professional BBL in 2004.

Raiders Chairman Bob Widdecombe said, “On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Raiders, we’d all like to thank Gary for everything he has done over his 24 years for the club. The club’s present set up is unrecognisable from the club that Gary joined back in 1985. The search for a new coach will start next week, but for this week, the Raiders are focused on the remaining two games of the 2009/10 season.”

The final bow will be an emotional occasion for Stronach with his side missing out on the play-offs after a disappointing campaign that never rebounded fully from a 0-12 start and a series of injuries.

“I’d really like for every fan coming to the game to wear something green,” said Stronach. “Whether it’s a hat, a t-shirt or top, or just something with green on it, I want to be able to look out at a sea of green in my last game with the team, and walk away with some very proud memories of what we have achieved here.”

However, it won’t be Stronach’s final game of the season. The soon-to-be ex-Raiders coach will helm the GB representative team in the BBL All Star game against the Rest of the World squad on May 8 at the NIA in Birmingham.


Nick Nurse set for college move

Great Britain assistant coach Nick Nurse is set to be named as Associate Head Coach at Iowa State University.

Nurse, who is currently involved in NBA D-League play-off action with the Iowa Energy, played collegiate basketball at the University of Northern Iowa before beginning his coaching career with Derby Storm.

Nurse was named as the first Iowa Energy head coach in 2007 after spells in the BBL and Germany. It is unclear whether the move would affect his position as Chris Finch's assistant with Britain.

Iowa State currently boasts prospective GB centre Jamie Vanderbeken on its roster.


Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Stuart Robbins dies suddenly at 33

Wales international Stuart Robbins had died suddenly at the age of 33, just weeks after finishing his first season in the Irish Superleague.

The much-travelled centre, who had enjoyed a fine debut campaign with Limerick Eagles, was discovered in his hotel bedroom in Galway on Monday morning, having spent the weekend coaching the college side at the annual Intervarsity basketball tournament.

It is believed that Robbins died in his sleep. A post-mortem is due to be carried out.

“We are all totally stunned and devastated by this,” said John King, the Eagles’ chairman, in a statement. “He was a tremendous young guy – literally larger than life. Stuart had become the go-to man on our team in his first season. He was our one professional player, the guy we depended on but much more than that, he was a really important and popular figure in the club. He helped out a lot with coaching in the college and with youngsters around Limerick and was brilliant."

Robbins spent much of his career in Germany as well as stints in the BBL with London Towers and Thames Valley.


Friday, 9 April 2010

Lakers-Wolves to meet in London

The Los Angeles Lakers will meet the Minnesota Timberwolves in a pre-season game at London's O2 Arena on October 4, sources have confirmed to

The Lakers, the reigning NBA champions, last played overseas in Paris in 1991 when a line-up featuring Magic Johnson narrowly beat Spanish side Badalona. Their European mini-tour will also see the Lakers travel to Catalunya to take on FC Barcelona, three days later, in a game that will see Pau Gasol meet his former club.

Minnesota, who have one of the worst records in the NBA this season, lost 92-81 to the Boston Celtics in London in 2007 as part of the league's annual Europe Live event. Ironically, they face the Lakers at the Target Center on Friday night.

An official announcement, from NBA Commissioner David Stern, is scheduled for Tuesday.


GB's Needham drafted into WNBA

Great Britain international Johannah Leedham is set to become only the second player from the UK to ever play in the WNBA after she was drafted 27th by the Connecticut Sun in the third round of the 2010 Draft.

Cheshire-born Needham, who shone at Franklin Pierce University where she garnered three Division II National Player of the Year awards, could face a conflict with her scheduled international duty this summer if she signs on.

The WNBA's regular season finishes on August 22, 8 days after GB's women open their Eurobasket campaign against Slovakia in Birmingham.

However Needham's college coach, Steve Hancock, has revealed that Sun head coach Mike Thibault is scheduled to hold talks with British Basketball to resolve the dilemma.

"Before drafting Johannah, I'm sure the Sun knew she was competing with her national team and felt they could come up with a solution to satisfy both teams," Hancock told the Union-Leader.

"There have been other players who were in the same situation as Johannah and things worked out. The bottom line is, whatever Johannah decides to do, it will be a good decision for her."

The Sun also had the top pick in the Draft, choosing UConn centre Tina Charles.


Thursday, 8 April 2010

GB announce summer schedule, venues

For the first time the GB Standard Life men's and women's teams will share venues after British Basketball confirmed that they will be staging two double headers this summer as both sides embark on important campaigns as they look to take the next steps towards London 2012.

The first of the two double headers will take place on August 14 at the NIA in Birmingham, when the men take on Ukraine and the women take on Slovakia. The second double header will be staged at Liverpool's Echo Arena on August 26, when Bosnia & Herzegovina and Germany are the respective opposition.

The remaining home games of the 2010 Eurobasket qualifying campaign, will see the men's team play at the new sports facility at Northumbria University in Newcastle as well as a further game at the NIA, whilst the women will play at Surrey University.

Chris Spice, British Basketball Performance Director, believes the double headers are a great opportunity for the sport.

"It is fantastic that we have been able to incorporate two double headers into the men's and women's schedule, this is something we have been considering for a number of years," he said. "We fully believe that the double headers will attract huge public interest in Birmingham and Liverpool to make it a very positive experience for our teams.

"Both programmes will have a challenging Eurobasket qualifying campaign, but through the selection of these venues, we are providing a great platform for the teams to go out and perform on the court.

"In recent years we have enjoyed competing at the NIA and the Echo Arena, so I am sure this year will be no different. We are especially looking forward to be heading to the new venues at Surrey University and Newcastle, the latter of which is such a strong basketball area and of course boasts current BBL champions the Newcastle Eagles."

GB Men's Head Coach, Chris Finch, who is currently having a very successful season in the NBA D-League with Rio Grande Valley, has already started to plan for the summer campaign.

"Having the venues confirmed is the next step in our preparation towards what will be a very tough but exciting campaign. I am really looking forward to being at the NIA and the Echo Arena, which proved to be very positive experiences in the 2008 campaign, when we won both games.

"Myself and the extended coaching team are currently working hard to identify the correct players for the roster which will put us in a position whereby we are capable of qualifying for the 2011 Eurobasket Finals."

Tom Maher, GB Women's Head Coach, who will be taking charge of his first competitive Eurobasket qualifying campaign, said: "I think the opportunity for the women to compete at the big venues is invaluable experience, and I am excited about the prospect of sharing the court with the men's team. Since joining up with British Basketball, I have been pleased with the quality of players available for selection, so I think we should look forward to the upcoming campaign with optimism."

Away venues for both teams have to be confirmed, the men's team will travel to Hungary (2 Aug), Bosnia & Herzegovina (11 Aug), Macedonia (23 Aug) and Ukraine (29 Aug) to finish the campaign. The Women take on Germany (17 Aug), Slovak Republic (23 Aug) and Ukraine (29 Aug).

Schedule - Home
8 August 2010 - GB Standard Life Men v Macedonia, Northumbria University
14 August 2010 - GB Standard Life Women v Slovakia / GB Standard Life Men v Ukraine, NIA Birmingham
17 August 2010 - GB Standard Life Men v Hungary, NIA Birmingham
20 August 2010 - GB Standard Life Women v Ukraine, Surrey University
26 August 2010 - GB Standard Life Women v Germany / GB Standard Life Men v Bosnia & Herzegovina, Echo Arena, Liverpool


British Basketball aims Tall

This weekend will see thirty-five highly talented individuals travel to the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield to be put through their paces by top British Basketball coaches and EIS Talent ID Scientists, in the second phase of Talent 2016: Tall & Talented.

Unlike the first phase, this stage of the initiative, which is being jointly run by the UK Talent Team (UK Sport and the EIS) and British Basketball, will be focused entirely on testing the athletes on the skills and techniques needed in basketball. The candidates, of which twenty are male and fifteen are female, will be tested on, amongst other things, their ball handling skills, technique, shooting and ability to defend.

Participants who impress in Sheffield will then be placed at an appropriate point in the British Basketball talent pathway, which dependent on their age and basic skill level, could be anywhere from an Area Performance Centre to a Regional Institute of Basketball. Those chosen to progress will then start on the years of hard work and determination needed to become an elite athlete, with the hope of progressing towards the GB team and a possible Olympic medal in Rio 2016.

British Basketball, who are responsible for the development of talented youngsters in the home nations with a view to them eventually performing at their peak for Great Britain on the world stage, are extremely excited about the potential of some of the candidates.

Warwick Cann, Performance Pathways Coordinator at British Basketball, said: "This is an important phase for basketball in Britain, helping to identify talent that has the potential to help GB perform on the international stage for a long time to come. The initial assessment days highlighted some talented individuals and I am keen to get them onto a court this weekend to see what they can do."


BBL play-off race

Heading into this weekend, what's on the table...

Milton Keynes will qualify for the play-offs with a win over Worthing on Saturday. Or if Worcester lose to Essex OR Guildford, OR if Worthing lose to Milton Keynes.

Everton Tigers will qualify with wins over Cheshire OR London. Or if Worthing lose to Milton Keynes.

Worthing Thunder will qualify for the play-offs if they lose to Milton Keynes AND Worcester lose to Essex and Guildford.

Glasgow Rocks will clinch a top four place if they beat Leicester.


Leven signs up for Scotland

Great Britain guard Steve Leven has 'defected' to Scotland after signing up to feature on national duty in July’s European Championships in Malta.
Under FIBA rules, players cannot represent both GB and one of the home nations in the same year.
However after talks with Britain’s coach Chris Finch, Australian-born Leven has ruled himself out of this summer’s Eurobasket qualifiers in favour of making his debut for the land of his mother’s birth.
He confirmed: “Tom Campbell, the Scotland coach, contacted me a while ago. So I will be coming up to train and also play in the friendlies and play with them in all the tournaments and games coming up this summer. And I’d like to return to the BBL next season.”
The 27-year-old, who has played in the Netherlands and Spain as well as for Newcastle Eagles, made his GB debut in 2008 but has missed most of this season through injury.


Saturday, 3 April 2010

Copeland still basking in Final Four experience

Exactly 52 weekends ago, Mike Copeland looked up, inhaled and took in the din from 72,456 fans inside Detroit’s Ford Field watching him throw a basketball into the air in an act of pure ecstasy. Another 16 million Americans were tuned in on TV to see his North Carolina team win the NCAA college championship, the culmination of a month-long frenzy that captivates a nation, its President included.

Forget the images of university sport, British-style, ignored and unappreciated. ‘The Tourney’, an end-of-season scrap among the best 65 teams, builds its drama with every round until only the toughest quartet remain. The Final Four, which begins tonight in Indianapolis, is the second only to the Super Bowl in Uncle Sam’s sporting stakes. And to be at its epicentre is an experience that Copeland will not forget.

“It’s like a football game here,” explains the Glasgow Rocks forward. “Everywhere you went, at the hotel, outside, there were people waiting for you. It was crazy. It was hard to stay focused because there is so much hype around North Carolina. They have fans everywhere. But it was a lot, a lot, of fun.”

As the local boy made good, in his final game before turning professional, victory was the ultimate. “It was the best way to go out after working so hard for four years, all the blood, sweat and tears on the court every day. You’re hurt. You’re banged up. It was all worth it.”

This time around, the Tar Heels were left out of March Madness. Their young, struggling team was sent into the wilderness of the NIT, where they were beaten in the final by Dayton on Thursday. “Tough year,” says Copeland who regularly talks to his former coaches.

From his current staging post, he will be rooting for ABD: Anyone But Duke, NC’s traditional rivals. West Virginia may have a shot, he says. So too Baylor. But “… I think Michigan State will do it,” he predicts. Yet the contrast between then and now could not be wider. On Saturday night, the Rocks visit the BBL’s basement side London Capital, who often struggle to draw a three-figure crowd.

It must, you wonder, be hard to find the same motivation? “It was hard at first,” he admits. “It’s like being in high school where sometimes we played in front of 200. But you have to pump yourself up.

“You see, I could pick out a player from every team in our (college) conference who would like to be in my position. They just want to play basketball but they didn’t get jobs. I know I have a team and I’m a big part. The season’s had its ups and downs. But I’m getting to play.”

Having fulfilled one dream, there are others still to chase. Someone in Indy will stand where Copeland stood and end up having a ball.

ESPN America, 11pm