baumann_sign_jersey_568The head of basketball’s world governing body FIBA will make a personal plea for Great Britain’s teams to receive financial backing in the lead-up to the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Patrick Baumann confirmed last night that he will attend the appeal hearing – scheduled for London on January 30 – against UK Sport’s controversial decision to withdraw their investment in basketball which totalled over £8 million ahead of the 2012 Games.

The Swiss powerbroker, who also sits on the International Olympic Committee, is accusing the government agency of failing to live up to the bargain made when the decision was taken to effectively create a merger between England Basketball with its Scottish counterparts and target resources on a single set of national teams.

And he is warning that a failure to overturn UK Sport’s proposals will kill off Britain’s hopes of qualifying for major championships for a generation.

“It’s not going to be very easy without funding,” Baumann said. “You can’t just replace it with the stroke of a pen. It’s not easy to find private funding because of the current climate and that will impact on the ability of British Basketball to have the same level of expertise. It will slow down their momentum. And all the work they are doing with the talent programme in the background will have to be sacrificed in favour of the elite team or the other way round.

“Basketball will not die. It’s a question of whether you will see competitive British teams for the next five years which can effectively compete at the top of European and in world level. That’s going to be hard.”

Baumann will be meet with NBA officials in London this week following the regular season game between New York and Detroit. And he maintains that such initiatives illustrate the untapped potential for basketball in the UK.

“The BBL Cup Final had good ratings last weekend,” he said. “The NBA is here this week. The Euroleague wants a team there. We’ve been working for eight years.

“The basketball family have kept that bargain, not only from outside the country but also with England and Scotland voting to relinquish their membership from FIBA. Now it’s a pity that the authorities, those who have statistics that show basketball is a promising sport, have lost that faith.”

Both Great Britain senior teams have guaranteed spots at next summer’s EuroBasket finals but only the men will travel with a victory earned at London 2012. That failure on the court has fuelled UK Sport’s move but to just look at wins and losses is to be blind to the real progress made over the last decade, Baumann states.

“The women never lost by more than ten points,” he underlined. “The men did well. They are probably frustrated they didn’t get a few baskets more than didn’t earn then a better ranking. But from our perspective, they did very well from going to the Olympics for the first time.

“Losing games, blowing wins, that’s still remarkable when we’ve had other teams going to the Games and losing every time by 25 points.”

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