Where is British basketball? Journalist Mark Woods answers us

“Basketball is progressing everywhere and when you don’t come up with the right attitude, you have no place.” The sentence is signed by Vincent Collett. On Monday evening, after the French team’s big defeat in the final qualifying match for Eurobasket 2022, the coach recalled that basketball is a sport that is advancing all over the world. Great Britain has exhibited it again. Already qualified when they played only one home meet in six matches, players from across the channel dominated the French head and shoulders. And even if the qualification system does not favor nations that are deprived of their Eurolog and NBA players, there are still many players such as the French, such as Montenegrin (a little less German), who play in the Eurocup, BCL and referring championships, unlike the British.

Basketball is not a national sport in the UK, we know that. But at least, it is finding its place in European basketball, at least in international competitions. If she can’t rely on NBA ambassadors (Luol Deng, Ben Gordon or even Joel Freeland, Pope Mensah-Bonsu …) at the beginning of the decade, if she doesn’t have the charm at the national championship that was in it in the 80s. In the decade, when local investors brought in strong American players, the national team managed to perform well. Thus, after bringing England, Scotland and Wales together in 2006, it missed the Euro only once in 2015, a huge success for a country that cannot rely on a structured federation, which has a unveiling in 2018. According to the latest figures made (33,000 in England, over 8,000 in Scotland and 2,000 in Wales) there are fewer than 50,000 licensees. Because to play for a club in England, you have to show perseverance and therefore passion. To train in the country’s rare multisports halls, you have to pay.

This is the case of Mark Woods, a journalist reference on the orange ball on the channel. To be able to practice indoors, he must be outdoors and put his hands in his pocket. He and his basketball friends have to pay £ 90 (€ 105) each time they book a training slot. Lack of infrastructure, difficulties of access to practice, lack of salaried and therefore trained coaches undoubtedly explain the structural difficulties of British basketball, which face heavy competition especially from football. But despite everything, this basketball manages to progress.

Mark Woods, who writes exclusively on MVP247.com, talks with us about the development of British basketball in recent years:

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Even though they played only one game at home, the British national team qualified for the Eurobasket in a tough group.

It has been an excellent qualification campaign for Great Britain to reach EuroBasset 2022, in particular Coach Nate Rinking (Canton coach, also in the G-League) was unavailable for most matches, and selection was not available. There is currently no urologist player. Or even EuroCup. What has been impressive is that the team has played together, especially in defense, with players like Ovi Soko and Luke Nelson, who have shown that they can claim to play in better clubs in Europe.

It also highlights problems related to the new FIBA ​​calendar, along with the fact that countries with NBA and Urolog players are at a loss. In this group, if France, Germany and Montenegro were able to bring together their best talents, it could have been very different in the end. But for Great Britain, it is a gift that is accepted with pleasure.

Now it is normal to find British in Euro. Do you think that the national team entered a new era ten years ago with Luol Deng, Joel Freeland etc. The

The era began in 2006, when England, Scotland and Wales, instead of playing for their side, established a united Great Britain. I think there was a shortage when there was a real investment in the national team. It has become much more professional and, for the men’s team, is primarily credited to Chris Finch and Nick Nurse (Toronto Raptors’ current coaches, editor’s notes) for leading the project. The national team was responsible for managing budgets and confronting budget problems over the past decade, with regular disruptions in political problems. But of course British national teams have become more important in this game.

Unlike the national team for the 2012 Olympic Games, you do not have superstars, but a plethora of solid players like Miles Hessen, Ovi Soko, Tariq Philippe, Gabriel Olseni … How does British basketball coach its players?

It is very diverse. Hessen is the best example of a young man coming from the British system, first at his local club Birmingham, then at BBL and now overseas, in Europe. It represents a “success story”. Soko, like many British sportsmen, went to high school and then university in the United States. It remains a challenge for Great Britain: how to mimic the system of France and Spain where a lot of talent can become high level players without leaving their country. An academy system is developing and the British Basketball League is progressing. But there does not seem to be an attractive alternative to going to the United States. For Philip, he was born and raised in the United States, so he did not pass through the British system at all.

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Former Orlanis Gabriel Olseni is one of the best current British players (Photo: FIBA)

Is OG Anunoby (Toronto Raptors NBA player) called to help the team in the future? He was born in London but was raised in Missouri.

This is “fake news”. To ask if he does not have a British passport and since Great Britain does not enforce the Law of Seoul, I do not see why he would become a British citizen and would also play for Great-Brittany. If he was born in London, it stands to reason that his family, who are Nigerians, worked there before moving to the United States when he was 4 years old.

Either way, the future looks bright. The U20 national team defeated Serbia by a margin of 16 in 2019, finishing 10th in the Eurobasket in 2018, before reaching the quarterfinals in 2019.

We have good young players – the biggest potential is Cam Hildreth (b. 2002, editor’s note), who currently plays for the Surrey Scorchers in the BBL, but will join Wake Forest in the summer. We hope that NBA talent will emerge. We did not have a British player in the league as Luol Deng retired and we are eager to see if anyone is able to play there in the next ten years.

We should not forget the national women’s team, which reached the semi-finals of the Euro in 2019.

It is a fantastic group with superb team spirit and is an excellent coach in person with Chema Buceta (Spanish technician and sports psychologist, editor’s note). It is disappointing and they should have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, but TQO 2020 was one of their worst matches in recent years against South Korea. He also experienced a similar situation against Bulgaria in January. (Minnesota Lynx player in WNBA, editor’s note) is a first-rate talent, but a good part of the generation that competed in the 2012 Olympics and reached the semi-finals of Euro 2019, and will be exclusively at East Burroughs Ledham . Retired. We do not yet know if the next generation can do the same. It will be difficult.


Joeybadet’s Joey Lidam against France of his former teammates Marine Johannes and Andy Miame in the 2019 semi-finals (Photo: FIBA)

The biggest problem in British basketball always seems to be the same: the level of the national championship, BBL. Many youth are leaving the country to move to the United States. And when they become professionals, they play abroad. The London Lions are trying to join BCL. Do you think BBL is progressing?

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BBL has made considerable progress in the last five years. The level of the game is underestimated. Financially, it is more stable. But the clubs do not have the infrastructure that U18s have in France with those who then pass through hops and then pros. This is not good for the team and the league.

However, more resources are expected to arrive soon. There is a good TV contract with Sky Sports (which announces an audience of 30,000 viewers per match broadcast). Even if the Londo Lions’ European campaign came to a standstill from the start (the initial defeat in 77–73 BCL against Napunas Kalepeda), they have the ambition – and the means – to try again next year . The next 2-3 years will be crucial for the BBL to establish itself as a mid-caliber championship in Europe.


British-American Byron Mullens is one of the former NBA players of the London Lions (Photo: FIBA)

When is this British technician? On these worthy windows, it was the unknown Mark Stuttel who led his group to the Euro. Who is he ?

Stuttel has done a great job with Great Britain and plays in the G-League during the season, given the difficulties of managing the team without his coach (Nate Reinking). Its employment is in the English regional second class, that is, the third British Department. They obviously have talent. But it helps to highlight the lack of opportunities for British trainers to reach good salaries and develop their careers. He only got an offer in the BBL, then the team went back before it started. I hope he will be recognized and able to become a head coach to develop his skills.


Regular assistant Mark Stuttel led Great Britain to the Euro 2022 qualification (Photo: FIBA)

To name a few of the current British internationals:

  • Dan Clarke, Real Canoe (Aspen)
  • Miles Hessen, Ellen Chalan (France)
  • Luke Nelson, Göttingen (Almellgein)
  • Teddy Ockerfor, Bristol Flyers (Grande-Bretten)
  • Gabe Olseni, Byuksekme (Turkey)
  • Tariq Philip, Tofus Bursa (Turkey)
  • Ovi Soco, Le Mans (France)

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About the Author: Piers Parker

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