Doubts that Great Britain’s men could be pulled out of August’s EuroBasket 2021 pre-qualifiers have been erased.

Assurances that a full-strength team will fulfil its four scheduled fixtures with Kosovo and Luxembourg has come from British Basketball Federation chair Maurice Watkins.

With no funds provided to finance the programme, it is understood a number of options were placed on the table including the drastic measure of withdrawal, or to field a lower-cost squad of BBL and Under-20 players.

With head coach Alberto Lorenzo seeking assurances over his future and his capacity to select his own squad, a board meeting in Manchester last week considered potential ways forward for the men’s side although a critical faction, understood to be led by Nicky Shaw, is thought to have questioned its long-term potential and its players standing as role models.

However Watkins, who flew out to support GB’s women in their EuroBasket battle, has signalled that money will be found for the summer to avoid any glitch.

“We’re working on all these things,” he told MVP. “There is a lot going on and we’re in that competition and we’re going to do our best to make sure they’re in good shape.

“As far as I’m concerned they will play.”

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What will happen beyond that is still unclear although the women’s passage into the last four of EuroBasket in Belgrade is set to give the sport its biggest shot in the arm since the 2012 Olympics.

Informal lobbying has already begun to UK Sport’s new chief executive Sally Munday who will arrive from England Hockey in the autumn to fill the role left vacant by Liz Nicholl’s departure on Friday.

Success for the women is guaranteed to unlock further funding for their Olympic qualification bid next February but there are hopes it can lead to a change of perception over British basketball and its long-term potential.

Until then, all options will be considered, Watkins confirmed.

“We’re looking at everything. You have to do that when you’re in a situation when you’re in an unfunded sport. There are responsibilities across the whole game. It’s going to be very important how the women do here but it’s important that people want to play the sport as well.

“I think there is interest being created and nothing builds that more than success and having the role models to support and to follow. I think we’re starting to do that.”

One possible outsourcing route, however, appears to have been discounted.

The British Basketball League had made an approach to take over the running of the senior men’s team with an initiative, championed by Newcastle Eagles owner Paul Blake, which would have seen the team hived off into a player-run trust with the BBL lending logistical support, a model previously utilised in the Netherlands.

“We put the idea out there because of the issues with the BBF struggling with funding with the idea of a license for a period of time that would have allowed the men to do things like crowd-funding,” a source within the league confirmed.

However that idea has gained no traction.

Photo: MAP

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