MURRAY WANTS GB TO BE MINT

Gareth Murray insists Great Britain’s players can ignore the off-court politics plaguing British basketball and move closer to a World Cup spot in Glasgow tonight.

Victory for GB over Israel at the Emirates Arena (Eurosport 2, 7.30) is likely to send Alberto Lorenzo’s men into the second phase of qualifying, days after a plan – backed by Basketball England– was drafted that would see the team’s budget and support staff undergo drastic cuts.

And although it is understood senior players are ready to rally against a scheme which would effectively dismantle the current British Basketball Federation, and scrap the country’s Under-20 teams, Murray insists the focus will be on upsetting the Israelis rather than the in-fighting.

“We’re aware of what’s going on,” the Glasgow Rocks forward said. “We’re thinking about it. But right now there’s nothing we can do about what’s happening off the court. All we can do it qualify and hope all that other stuff takes care of itself. But qualifying would be great for us.”

Earlier in Group H, Estonia visit Greece and in the improbable event that the unbeaten group leaders lose at home, Great Britain would need to beat Israel by seven points to get through to the Second Round. Should the Greek prevail, then is win or bust for GB.

However, should Greece triumph, then Israel would still progress ahead of the Estonians on a three-way tie-breaker if they avoid a loss by 22 points.

Former San Antonio Spurs draftee Ryan Richards is set to return after missing Friday’s win over Estonia with a calf strain but it will need 40 minutes of sweat and toil if the hosts are to come out on top, Murray admits.

“It’s going to be about defence again. Against Estonia, we got going in the second half and started making shots but it still came down to us shutting tem down. Israel will be tougher. We need to have that intensity from the beginning. There will be some momentum but it’s on us. There’s no pressure. I don’t feel it. It’s about winning. We’re at home and we should win.”

The three top sides will merge with Group G’s qualifiers who will include Germany and Serbia and either Georgia or Austria.

Photo: Mansoor Ahmed/BB

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