British Basketball chairman Roger Moreland has pledged that the body will recruit head coaches with proven pedigree for Great Britain’s men and women teams, despite ongoing uncertainty over the financial backing available from UK Sport.
Although the government agency recently agreed to maintain its funding of the sport after initially leaving it off their Olympic programme, a budget deal has yet to be struck. The delay has caused a hold-up in appointing coaches to lead GB into this summer’s campaigns, which begin with EuroBasket Women in June.
It is unlikely, Moreland revealed, that British Basketball will directly replace the outgoing performance director Chris Spice, with a trimmed-down structure to be instituted instead.
However there are still hopes of luring playcallers who can begin to build new-look sides headed towards Rio 2016, with the hiring process – undertaken by a selection committee – now understood to be at an advanced stage.
“We don’t fully know what the budget is just yet,” Moreland said. “But we will bring in the best that we can do. We’re just getting on with it. We’re in a situation where we know we’re going to get funding. We know we’ve got to do a job this year.
“The main priority is EuroBasket 2015 and the additional (Olympic) qualifying tournament in 2016. So we have to plough on. We can’t afford to wait. And UK Sport knows that.”
In a move that will surprise many, a proposal has been tabled to bring Spice onto the British Basketball board despite his recent defection to British Swimming and the criticisms, both public and private, of his approach during London 2012.
Keeping him involved, Moreland claims, can offset the loss of his post.
And he has defended the record of the Australian during his tenure, saying: “I don’t agree with the criticism of Chris, particularly when you look at the record of where we’ve come from to where we’ve gone to over the last few years. There’s been a huge improvement in performances. So you won’t find me at the head of the queue to criticise Chris.”
It seems certain, however, that the national team programmes will go into this summer without a performance team in place, despite a call from UK Sport to fill the void as soon as possible.
“We’re behind the timescales at the moment because of the UK Sport decision,” Moreland admitted.
“So this year will be a bit of a strange one. We’ll look at some of the recruitment issues after the summer. But we’ve got to put in place the people now because the women’s championships are in June and the men’s programme has to be in place by September.”
Pic: Dan Wooller/BB
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