kieron_achara_568Great Britain star Kieron Achara has called on UK Sport to reverse its decision to strip basketball of its funding in the lead-up to the 2016 Olympics.

The Stirling-born forward, who led the national side to victory over China in London last summer, reckons it would be a fatal blow to any hopes of qualifying for Rio if Wednesday’s appeal hearing in London fails to win a change of heart.

Senior executives from British Basketball will have 15 minutes to make their case to UK Sport’s board following a vocal protest campaign which saw the government quango’s ‘no compromise’ policy come under scrutiny in a Parliamentary debate on Monday, as well as attracting stern criticism from respected figures including Frank Dick and Sir Clive Woodward.

And Achara, currently plying his trade with Greek League side Kavala, believes that the original proposal to pull the plug on financial backing ignores basketball’s long-term potential to both deliver medals and grow the sport.

“It will be devastating if we lose all funding for GB basketball,” claimed the Scot.

“It feels like UK Sport are saying that all the hard work and sacrifice we put into the Olympic campaign was for nothing. I seriously hope they reconsider cutting all funding. Basketball has so much potential in this country and we are so close to achieving global recognition.

“Of course there are a lot of improvements to make but after competing in two European finals and now an Olympic Games, we have gained much-needed experience that will now help is compete with the world’s best.

“We have to become a more consistent squad on the court and this can only be achieved by competing with the world’s elite teams. And to compete with the world’s best, of course funding is essential.”

UK Sport has refused to reveal whether other sports who were unhappy at their exclusion – including volleyball and handball – have lodged an appeal but it is understood that another formal process to overturn their policy can be launched should British Basketball fail in their bid.

The board is expected to rule on the issue within 48 hours.

Here’s what Luol Deng had to say.

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