Drew Sullivan 568 ILegacy. Remember that word? That was the buzzword that you couldn’t escape in 2011 and 2012. Legacy. The lasting effect the London 2012 Olympics were going to have on the nation’s sporting culture.

But Legacy seems to be a word that is being heard a lot less now that post-Olympics funding has become a lot less generous for a number of Britain’s “other” sports, basketball included. It might help if the general public was able to see what all the fuss was about in the first place too.

Opportunities to see the Great Britain basketball team have been markedly reduced in the past two years. Excluding the Olympics, GB’s men’s team have played only one international (the one-off at the Copper Box against Puerto Rico earlier this summer).

GB captain Andrew Sullivan believes that for the legacy part of the Olympic experience to work, GB have to be more visible and play more home games, especially friendlies.

“That’s something the players have said time and again over the summers,” he said recently in the team’s hotel in Murcia, Spain. “At the end of every campaign they ask us what we’d like to see change and we always say we’d like to spend a little more time in England.”

That night, Sullivan and his team-mates were about to become Spain’s sixth home opponents on a near-exhaustive tour of their own country by the European champions ahead of hosting the FIBA World Cup next year. Maybe there is a lesson in that for Great Britain.

“The reason that hasn’t happened, I understand, is that if you want to play high-profile teams, they might not like to travel to play those games,” said Sullivan. “It’s a tough situation but from a player’s standpoint it would be nice to spend a little more time at home and play few more games at home.”

GB’s last home tournament was the 2011 Olympic test event, designed as a ‘dry run’ for the 2012 Basketball Arena. 2009’s ill-fated Game On tournament at London’s O2 Arena found GB at the start of their preparation for a summer that would end with a 1-12 record and early elimination from Eurobasket.

But next year is could be different. GB will, assuming they fail to make the World Cup for the first time ever, be back in European qualifying again for the first time since 2010, a prospect that should cheer the hearts of game-starved GB fans.

“If for some reason we don’t make it to the Worlds and we have to qualify for Eurobasket 2015 we’ll be playing four or five games at home,” explained Sullivan approvingly, adding that he is of an age when he would like more with his family, which is soon to add another child.

GB’s habit of using different venues is another facet of the programme he approves of, bearing in mind many opponents either play exclusively in capital cities or base themselves in one location for preparation and qualifying ties.

“I thought that The O2 was good – we got a really good crowd,” says Sullivan recalling the Czech Republic game in 2008 as well as the Game On series.

The skipper also names Liverpool’s Echo Arena, the site of a convincing win over Israel and the overtime thriller against Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2010 that secured a second Eurobasket appearance, and Newcastle’s Northumbria University (where Macedonia were beaten in overtime in 2010) as the three best venues the team have had in terms of fan reaction.

Sullivan probably has a point. After so many years of our national teams having little impact on the European scene, the GB programme has allowed British fans and players alike to dream a little.

With funding sharply in decline, training camps in Houston are probably a thing of the past, and that could be a good thing if it allows the strong basketball community I n Britain to have greater access to the team. The women’s camps and tournaments at Surrey Sports Park have proved a success. Maybe now is the time for the men to be brought home too.


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