ROBINSON EAGER TO LEAVE HOME IMPRINT

A dozen years in exile, Justin Robinson wants to be a homecoming king.

On the court, the 29-year-old hopes he can help the London Lions reign on his return to the UK and the hometown he left as a teen to forge a new life, firstly in the United States and then around Europe on stops from east to west, each with its own twist and turn.

“I was away for seven years in Europe,” the point guard reflects. “There is a lot of instability. You’re moving around. You’re not sure if you’re coming or going.

“I felt like coming home. I can settle down and create a base for myself.”

One not far from Brixton, where he grew up and then join the illustrious group of graduates from the Top Cats programme who have made names for themselves beyond south London while also becoming, in unison, Great Britain internationals.

But Robinson’s decision to forego the ways of the travelling man has more to do that wiping away the wanderlust that was engaged last season with a tour in the French league that added one more nation to a CV that also includes Greece, Cyprus, Ukraine, Hungary and Finland.

“I want to start mentoring kids, young adults at risk, between 18-25 years old,” he revealed. “I know Kieron (Achara) has been doing similar things in Scotland to try and give back. You can use basketball as a tool for that.”

That is why no-one should expect Robinson to bolt away again. Permanence is the goal.

And the Lions are set to benefit from his learning to date and the quiet leadership that the playmaker has exhibited wherever he has gone, especially as an almost entirely new roster tries to bond under the unconventional coaching approach of Polish import Mariusz Karol.

The integration process is still far from complete ahead of Friday’s opener at Worcester Wolves.

“As a team, we’ve still a lot of work to do,” Robinson maintains. “We’ve not finished putting in our plays. I feel we’re a 5-man away from being really good.

“But I want to come in and show guys how they can be professional in going about their work. I’m the older guy now who is able to help younger guys out and share my experiences.”

Not so aged, however, to be past his prime. Robinson, surprisingly, has less than 25 caps for GB, having missed out in the final cuts ahead of both EuroBasket 2011 and the 2012 Olympics.

Point guards are an area in which there is relative depth. However with Tony Garbelotto signalling an open door for all to return, the Lions recruit has not given up hope of a recall.

“I spoke with Tony after we played them last Friday,” he reveals. “I know I’ve been away from the GB programme for a few years but it was good to chat to him and kind of reconnect.

“I’ve known Tony since I was a young boy so it’s good that there’s a familiar faces, someone who is British and cares about the growth of the grassroots. If the timing is right and the situation is right, I’ll be there.”

At least the Rider University graduate can point to one trophy already claimed from the pre-season All Stars Championship, of which he was the MVP.

A boost for London. A fillip for their new face. But nothing to get too carried away with as the league challenge begins.

“It is always good to play at home in front of your family and friends,” he smiles.

“That was a good confidence booster. But it was hard to gauge when you’re only playing 12 minutes.”

King for a day, but no more. For now.

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