A year out from its biggest stage, British Basketball’s performance chief Chris Spice believes the sport’s approach to the Team GB issue will pay dividends at next year’s Olympic Games.

And the Australian will urge the three home nations to maintain a single international team beyond London 2012 in a bid to challenge the existing superpowers.

World governing body FIBA has ordered Scotland, England and Wales to decide by next June whether to merge on a permanent basis or return to fielding three separate sides.

However with Britain’s men about to begin their preparations for a second successive EuroBasket finals next month – and with the women coming off a successful European campaign – Spice (above right) claims basketball is proof of what can be accomplished when the internal politics are set aside.

Rose Anderson is one of the Scots in the GB programme

“We’re obviously well ahead of football,” he said. “Rugby will have a real challenge when it brings together teams for 2016. We’re ahead of hockey because they only come together as GB in the last 18 months of the Olympic cycle.

“The fact we have GB at under-20 level puts us ahead. Sure, we might be better off with under-18 and 16 as well but it’s a structure that is working for us. But if we have to merge there too, then we have to.”

The home federations, plus British Basketball, will convene at the Olympic test event in London next month to hold initials talks on a discussion paper which is being pulled together by board members Roger Moreland, Terry Donovan and Bill McInnes.

Ample work has already been done between the three bodies with a joint development plan in operation. Ultimately it seems that a compromise solution remains the likeliest bet with a single FIBA member organisation, split internally into three semi-autonomous governing bodies, emerging as the preferred option in order to retain the momentum gained over the past five years.

That, Spice says, could satisfy both UK Sport – who provide the high performance funding which underpins the Great Britain teams – as well as the regional governments and lobbyists in Edinburgh and Cardiff.

“We’ve got no interest from a GB point of view in not having the home nations,” the Australian confirmed. “It’s just about in what capacity they operate. In British Basketball, we have no desire to be a fully fledged governing body and those guys do a lot of work at grassroots level that we haven’t got the capacity to do.

“From our point, we don’t want to see the demise of the home nations but we have to have some organisation on top of them. Once we get August out of the way, there’ll be subsequent meetings.

“We have to look at the funding issue that we take forward to the government, UK Sport and the home sports councils to make sure we don’t lose out. They’re very supportive now. And any structure we put in place, we want to make sure it doesn’t end up with us having less money.”

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