BRITISH BASKETBALL HIT WITH FUNDING AXE

British Basketball New Logo 568British Basketball has been dealt a devastating blow after it was confirmed it has lost its entire funding from UK Sport in the wake of last summer’s failures on the court.

After getting £8.5 million headed into London 2012, the agency has issued an apparent vote of no confidence in the sport’s ability to win medals at major championships by pulling all Lottery support in the lead-up to the next Olympics in Rio.

It comes just months after Great Britain’s men and women combined for a solitary win at the London Games, below expectations, but all talk of building legacies now rings allow.

Although both GB teams have qualified for next summer’s EuroBasket Finals, and have made vast strides since emerging from the lower reaches of the rankings in 2006, they will now have to prepare without the backing of their largest financial contributor with UK Sport targeting its investment on those sports with proven potential.

“This is a devastating decision and is a waste of that (previous) investment,” said British Basketball chairman Roger Moreland.

“Over the last five years, the GB teams have done the equivalent of going from League Two in football to the Premier League. They have been competing with the very best countries in the world. It doesn’t seem much of a legacy from 2012 to dash the hopes and aspirations of a sport whose heartland is founded in Britain’s inner cities.”

The governing body, who are due to merge with England, Scotland, and likely Wales, within the next two years, confirmed it will appeal the decision to UK Sport which has allocated a record total of £347 million to a variety of sports to achieve its mission “to be at least as competitive in Rio 2016 as at London 2012, but with a stronger, more sustainable high performance sport system.”

British Basketball’s performance director Chris Spice was among those asked to pitch a case for continued funding following London. Their message is that success was always more attainable by Rio. But with a ‘no compromise’ strategy in place, the sport is one of six which have been left out in the cold.

“To ensure a high performance legacy from London 2012, whereby we can aspire to replicate the inspirational performances in London in four years’ time in Rio, UK Sport’s priority for this investment was to get the right resources, to the right athletes, for the right reasons,” Liz Nicholl, the chief executive of UK Sport, said.

The door has not been fully closed with an annual review promised, should basketball’s performances improve. However without significant funding, it is unlikely that British Basketball will be able to afford to insure NBA players including Luol Deng and Joel Freeland, lengthening the odds of progress in future EuroBaskets.

Training camps will face cuts, so too the Under-20 and development programmes.

Hiring respected coaches at the going rate will also be a problem. For the players, it is a harsh blow.

“It’s definitely disappointing news after the huge steps British basketball has made in the past 5 years or so,” said GB forward Kieron Achara. “Though it won’t discourage us. And I’m sure we will bounce back and maintain our focus on developing the game in this country and competing with the best teams in the world.”

For the administrators, there is now hard work to do.

“We have only been informed of this decision today and we will need to take stock of what we do going forward,” added Moreland.

“The first thing we will be doing is appealing this decision. There seems to be a huge gap in the funding system for sports such as basketball. There is a fantastic talent pool in this country which comes from different parts of the community than the majority of sports UK Sport supports. They deserve better.

“We will take stock and thoroughly investigate all avenues and discuss options with the fantastic network of partners we have built up over time and anyone else that wants to join us.”

Badminton, archery, fencing, water polo, volleyball and weightlifting, which also got no medals in London, are among the sports which will continue to receive some funding as part of the Rio cycle.

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