Jules Dang-Akodo insists his role as the leader of London City Royals’ bench mob has repaid the gamble he took in returning home this season.

The guard, who turned 23 last week, began the campaign with Fraport Skyliners in Germany, featuring in five games for their Pro B outfit after making several appearances for their top flight Bundesliga roster last term.

Another building block for the Cameroon-born playmaker who began his career as teen import into the system of Slovenian giants, Union Olimpija for whom he eventually earned a brief promotion into their senior side.

But opting to come back to London, Dang-Okodo claims, was an opportunity that he believed could help realise his full potential, as well as offering personal gains.

“I just wanted to come back and play in front of family and friends,” the Great Britain cap said.

“There are a lot of people who have come seen me after being out of the country for so long. They don’t really know what I’ve been doing so it’s been good to be here. I wanted more playing time. Right now. It’s about playing and getting more experience so I thought it would be a good move to come here.”

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Dang’s growing maturity was underlined in the Royals’ tense BBL Playoff quarter-final win over Glasgow Rocks which has teed up a two-legged semi with Sheffield Sharks that opens in Yorkshire on Thursday.

Wes Washpun was out injured. Elvisi Dusha ejected. Option D was called. And, says Ashley Hamilton, “we told him ‘whatever you run, we’ll adjust to it – just go out and lead the way you feel is best.’ Their faith was repaid with a pivotal showing from the young PG.

It has not always been so simple, admits Dang, who is averaging 6 points and 2 assists. “It was tough making the transition. But the key was to find my role in the team and what they need me to do. Then come out and do that.”

Maybe he will remain at Crystal Palace next term. Or take the learning points abroad once again. I would not be this rounded, he acknowledges, without first packing a bag and seeking insights from other basketball cultures.

“Overseas went well,” he affirms. “They do a great job of developing young players and getting them ready for the next level. That really helped me a lot.

“There wasn’t really pressure but more that you have it in your head to get better, that’s your only job. And if you’re not doing it, you’ll have to go somewhere else.”

With a BBL Trophy medal, he could still add another before making his choice. That can wait. “I’m not thinking about next season yet. I’ll try to finish this one first at a high level. But this has definitely been a special year. You don’t always get to play with people you grew up with.

“That’s special.”

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