A formal application has been lodged to enter a Scottish team into the nascent Women’s British Basketball League.

It is part of a package of reforms designed to improve Scotland’s chances of qualifying for the next Commonwealth Games, as well as filtering leading prospects towards the Great Britain side.

Basketball Scotland is to use £140,000 of Sportscotland funding to hire two new national coaches ahead of Gold Coast 2018 to spearhead a reinvigorated talent drive. And if the WBBL bid – set to be based at Edinburgh’s new Oriam centre (pictured above) – gets the green light next month, there are hopes it can raise standards from top to bottom.

“It’s about getting the players together in an environment where they’ll be challenged which is the WBBL,” said Basketball Scotland chief executive Kevin Pringle.

“We want to create opportunities. Same for the male players. If they get an opportunity that’s better, then we’ll encourage them.

“But we want to do is create a system here. And if you look at the Commonwealth Games being two years away, we want to bring as much of that pool together and then create more of them.”

Discussions are expected to continue with Glasgow Rocks over a joint deal to hire the men’s coach that may see the appointee work part-time on their staff, bridging what unhealthy gap between the governing body and Scotland’s leading club, and potentially paving the way for foreign-based Scots like Gareth Murray and Ali Fraser to return home.

“We’ve talked to the Rocks for a long time about where they fit into our pathway,” Pringle revealed. “It’s never been really clear. But I think we can work together to create a path where kids can come through youth basketball and then have options: one being a scholarship in the USA, one being an academy in Europe and the other playing professionally the Rocks.

“The elite coaches will have a role across the pathway, to work with clubs, to work with professionals, with the GB players. We want the players and coaches to get better. And once we have hubs in Glasgow and Edinburgh, that can only be positive.”

With the new British Basketball Federation taking overall control of the sport in October – and the introduction of GB sides across all age groups into international competitions – MVP has learnt that tentative plans have been agreed to maintain some representation for the three home nations in Britain with annual tournaments involving overseas invitees.

But with the incoming BBF currently completing a radical strategy overhaul for a sport that has massively under-achieved over the past two decades, this is a time for co-operation and convergence rather than separatism, Pringle admits.

“It’s got to be an opportunity for us,” he said. “If the game grows at a British level, it lifts everything. What we had around London 2012 in terms of the interest it generated, if we can get back to that and be qualifying for major championships, it’s going to drive up the participation and the performance, as well as the commercial side. We need all three of those to happen.

“I wouldn’t say it’s make or break. The sport will survive. But in terms of opportunity, the chance towards a fresh organisation with new people coming in gives us fresh impetus. If we don’t get it right now, we will lose confidence. I don’t think we can turn things around in two years but we have to see progress in that time and so the pressure is on.”

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