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Glasgow Rocks have sacked head coach Darryl Wood.

It is understood the Scot, in his first year in the role, was called on Tuesday morning and let go based on ‘performances and results’.

The surprise move, which one Rocks player described as “crazy”, came two days after the side exited the BBL Trophy in the semi-finals at the hands of London City Royals.

Wood was handed the job on a permanent basis last summer after taking over on an interim basis when Tony Garbelotto was dismissed almost exactly 12 month ago.

He had guided his team to last month’s BBL Cup final, where they lost to London Lions, but they currently sit ninth in the league.

Until losses in both legs to the Royals and an overtime reverse at Newcastle last Friday, Glasgow had won 13 out of their previous 15 games.

Rocks owner Duncan Smillie said: “We part company on the best of terms, the commitment and professionalism demonstrated by Darryl in his time here as head coach and previously as assistant coach has been first class.

“We would like to thank him sincerely, at all times he has been a credit to himself and our organisation. On behalf of everyone at Glasgow Rocks we wish Darryl all the very best of luck in his future.

“We now enter the business end of the BBL season with 15 crucial games in March and April, we will announce our go forward strategy soon as we make our push for the play offs”

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Ashley Hamilton and Robert Gilchrist have been called into Great Britain’s squad for this week’s EuroBasket pre-qualifiers.

They replace Glasgow Rocks’ Gareth Murray, out with a broken nose, and Bakken Bears’ Ryan Martin, who had been in line for his debut before injury.

It means a recall for Gilchrist, who was left out of the original 12-man squad, while Hamilton will win his second cap and become London City Royals first-ever GB internationalist.

With Ogo Adegboye out for the season following patella surgery last week and Justin Robinson understood to have ruled himself out, it leaves Alberto Lorenzo’s men with a much-changed roster for Thursday’s clash with Cyprus in Manchester and Sunday’s return with Austria in Vienna, both of which the side must win to have any chance of advancing as group winners into the main qualifying round for EuroBasket 2021.

Lorenzo said: “Obviously it is never ideal to have to change players from our original squad, but we wish Gareth and Ryan all the best in their recovery. Ogo’s injury was really unfortunate as well and the whole team wishes him well during his rehab.

“We’re looking forward to what should be a great three days of camp and Robert and Ashley coming in will no doubt build on that. We’re going to be ready for Cyprus and Austria and our goals haven’t changed in that regard.”

Meanwhile British Basketball has been criticised for banning any filming of the Cyprus game, even though the contest is not being shown on TV.

The international will only be screened on FIBA’s YouTube channel as part of the default deal for the competition but the world governing body did not raise any objections to others creating their own footage, effectively prohibiting the BBC or websites from collecting high-quality footage.

In a statement posted late on Monday evening via social media, British Basketball said: “Following a period of review, GB Basketball has taken the decision not to allow independent filming during any of our home games for the foreseeable future.”

Main photo: Mansoor Ahmed

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Basketball could be brought inside the funding tent after 2021, it can be revealed.
UK Sport have unveiled plans to shake-up their system for supporting sports and to dilute its long-held focus on delivering Olympic and Paralympic medals at the expense of all else.

It follows the publication of a report revealing that while 60 per cent of the public still back that strategy and the huge successes it has brought, there is a discernible desire to see other returns on that investment, including social impacts and some assistance for non-Olympic disciplines.

On a scale of 1 to 10, a survey question that measured “ the importance of British athletes succeeding in sports that people play” rated 7.24 while one that quizzed on “sports with higher levels … of socio-economic impact” had a mark of 6.32, both above the average.

With political winds blowing away from a no-compromise policy that has elevated Team GB from also-rans to second in the medals table at the Rio 2016, a new tier of funding – Progression- will be added after the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

It will aim to provide long-term investment for sports, like basketball, that do not have strong immediate prospects of success while also providing a safety net for those dropping down the pecking order in what some describe as “boom or bust”.

“People still believe in our principal objective of success at Olympic and Paralympic Games,” UK Sport’s chair Katherine Grainger said. “”What we heard loud and clear is that they’ve not had enough yet. They want more. But they want an investment strategy from UK Sport with more social impact.”

That should make the whole system more equitable, she added, with lessons taken from UK Sport’s Aspiration Fund which has effectively served as a pilot for the revamped scheme, dishing out smaller amounts of money to sports – basketball included – and individuals who have been passed over in the main Podium and Podium Potential levels of finance.

“It would be a much longer pathway which would seem like a fairer system for people to access who have longer-term ambitions,” Grainger told MVP, with the caveat being that the exact sums on offer will likely not be determined until 2020 when there is a greater clarity over how much money will be provided by the Treasury to supplement what are dwindling receipts from the National Lottery.

“We don’t see the landscape shifting too far from what we’ve already done. This extra pot of funding will probably provide greater opportunity for more sports to access funding more than we ever had before. So the opportunity is there but the whole point is that funding is always in place where sports can prove they can progress through the system. So we’ll still be pushing every sport whether it’s team or individual to be as ambitious as they’ve always been.”

Theoretically, the strategy re-think will bring winners and losers with sports like sailing set to come under pressure so that the cake is sliced more evenly.

UK Sport, however, has previously signalled that British Basketball will need to satisfy demands for a sustainable plan for its long-term future to be eligible for regular funding with larger sports set to be asked to generate more of their own funding rather than relying on the public purse.

UK Minister for Sport Mims Davies MP said: “This new strategy will further support our phenomenal athletes to deliver world-class performances, while using their success to inspire more people and communities across the country.”

Pic: Mansoor Ahmed

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The 12-man roster for the Great Britain’s men’s national team has been revealed ahead of the crucial EuroBasket 2021 pre-qualifying clashes.
Kyle Johnson and Conner Washington are recalled for the ties in Manchester against Cyprus on Thursday 21 February and away to Austria on Sunday 24 February while there is a debut for Danish-based Ryan Martin.

Great Britain men’s head coach Alberto Lorenzo and his team need to win their remaining two games in order to advance to the EuroBasket 2021 qualifying stages, otherwise they face a third and final pre-qualifying route this summer.

GB will look to do the double over Cyprus at the National Basketball Performance Centre in Belle Vue, Manchester, defeating them 75-61 in Nicosia the last time they met on 3 December.

However, they need to better Austria’s 14-point win in November as 18 points from Myles Hesson wasn’t enough as the Austrians secured a 96-82 win on 29 November.

Lorenzo said: “I am pleased to be able to name such an exciting roster of players and I’m looking forward to getting into camp and working with this group ahead of the games against Cyprus and Austria.

“We know the task ahead of us, what we need to do, and now we have to make sure we execute. It’s going to be an important window for us but I believe we have what it takes to qualify from our group.”

Lorenzo hands a first summons to Bakken Bears’ Martin while Ryan Richards, Justin Robinson and Ogo Adegboye among those omitted.

Lorenzo said: “I want to offer my congratulations to both Conner and Ryan for working hard and earning their places in this team.

“I’m sure they will make the most of the opportunity alongside some of the more experienced players. Hopefully they can both make an impact during this window and become long term additions to our plans.”

Great Britain squad

Teddy Okereafor – Holargos, GRE
Gabriel Olaseni – Wurzburg, GER
Ovie Soko – Murcia, ESP
Dan Clark – Fuenlabrada, ESP
Myles Hesson – Gravelines, FRA
Carl Wheatle – Biella, ITA
Gareth Murray – Glasgow Rocks
Ryan Martin – Bakken Bears, DEN
Andrew Lawrence – Benacquista, ITA
Josh Steel – Força Lleida, ESP
Conner Washington – Leicester Riders
Kyle Johnson – SO Maritime Boulogne, FRA

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British Basketball is to get £75,000 from UK Sport in a second wave of awards from its new Aspiration Fund.

The sport lost out initially in November 2018 when 14 Olympic and Paralympic sports received the first wave of shares at the launch of the £3 million pot of cash to help support their ambitions to qualify for Tokyo 2020.

Basketball’s initial application to access funding was rejected in December after UK Sport’s assessment that the likelihood of a Great Britain team qualifying for the Olympics in 2020 was unlikely to be achieved.

However, £118,496 of the initial fund was held back by UK Sport and the largest chunk – as expected – has now been earmarked for basketball, a contribution expected to be be pushed largely towards preparations for FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2019.

Maurice Watkins CBE, Chair of the BBF said: “I want to express my thanks to UK Sport for their latest show of support. This news is another step forward for basketball and whilst we were disappointed to miss out during the initial allocation from the Aspiration Fund, we are pleased to have now been awarded additional financial assistance as our teams gear up for an exciting 2019.”

Sitting Volleyball, Baseball and Wrestling will also benefit from the Aspiration Fund while Fencing, Wheelchair Fencing and Boccia will receive additional investment as part of the Annual Review process.

Liz Nicholl, CEO of UK Sport said: “We are delighted that we are able to reach more sports and athletes through our Aspiration Fund investments as we have looked to make the £3 million from Government stretch as far as possible. ”

In November the GB Women’s team qualified for this summer’s EuroBasket finals, jointly hosted by Serbia and Latvia. GB have been drawn in Group A with defending champions Spain, as well as co-hosts Latvia and Ukraine.

“We believe that basketball changes lives and enhances communities, and we know from our partners in England, Scotland and Wales just how much basketball is growing in popularity, and what it means to people of all ages,” said Watkins. “We will continue to work together to strengthen our sport’s financial position and to strengthen our ability to perform at the highest level.”

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Basketball England have launched a pilot scheme to provide financial assistance for young players in order that they can play basketball.

The £10,000 Assist Fund will provide junior members with allowances of between £50 and £100, with clubs eligible to apply for support for up to three of their players.

The selection process will be undertaken in partnership with Basketball England’s ten Regional Management Committees, who will provide local knowledge and background to anyone wishing to access the Fund.

Basketball England’s Chair Clare Wardle said: “Basketball is for everyone, and the Assist Fund will provide valuable support to our members that need it the most. We know how popular basketball is and the effect it can have on people’s lives. There shouldn’t be any barriers to overcome if someone chooses to be involved in our sport.”

It follows feedback about the need to find ways to help young people who come up against financial issues when trying to play the game, especially those from low-income families.

To find out more about the Assist Fund, for application guidance and to fill out an application form ahead of the March 4 deadline, visit https://www.basketballengland.co.uk/assist-fund/

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In this edition of the MVP Cast, we’re joined by Caledonia Pride guard Tia Weledji.

She tells us about about juggling academics and basketball at Princeton, playing in front of the US president and getting a half-time team talk from the First Lady, her experiences representing Cameroon and life in the UK and the Women’s British Basketball League.

Download or subscribe to every edition via your preferred provider – more information here.

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Worcester Wolves have placed Tony Garbelotto in interim charge as head coach Ty Shaw takes an extended leave.

The American was hospitalised at half-time during a road game at Sheffield Sharks in early January and is still taking some time to recover.

Garbelotto, who served as a consultant to London City Royals at the start of the campaign, will take over for an initial one month spell with Felix Hallam as his assistant after Dean Blake also stepped aside pending the arrival of his first child.

It marks a return to the BBL for the Londoner who abruptly departed his roles in charge of Glasgow Rocks and Great Britain mid-way through last season amid an as-yet unexplained disciplinary process.

He previously coached domestically at Newcastle Eagles, Birmingham Bullets and Everton Tigers, where he won the treble in 2010-11.

He said: “I am excited about joining the Worcester organisation on a temporary basis. Although the club has struggled with results this season, there is a huge amount of talent and high level players on the roster and I hope I can help them to continue to work towards achieving their potential”

With Worcester struggling at the bottom of the BBL, Wolves Managing Director Mick Donovan signalled a need for quick changes.

“Tony has a proven track record at all levels as an excellent coach and his appointment sends out a clear message that we are still fighting to win every game that we can and repay the support of our passionate fan base. We sincerely appreciate Tony’s support and experience at this time as we await the return of Ty.”

Garbelotto will be on the sideline at Friday’s home game against Newcastle Eagles before travelling to Manchester Giants on Sunday.

Pic: Mansoor Ahmed

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London City Royals forward Matthew Bryan-Amaning guests on the latest edition of the MVP Cast.

He tells us why he returned home to the British Basketball League (and if he’ll stay), his varied life experiences in a variety of overseas stops, how being cut by Great Britain ahead of the 2012 Olympics left a sour taste, and his frustration at missing out on the NBA after starring at the University of Washington.

Subscribe to the MVP Cast and never miss an edition. Add it to your downloads list at Apple Podcasts and a variety of other outlets, or listen on your smart devices, with more information here.

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London Lions picked up the BBL Cup with a 68-54 victory over Glasgow Rocks at ArenaBirmingham.

It was only the second trophy in the 42-year history of the Lions, their first since winning this competition in their previous incarnation in Milton Keynes in 2008.

Favourites as the current league leaders, Vince Macaulay’s side wholly dominated a scrappy duel.

Shrugging off the Scots for good in the second quarter, they bullied and cowered their foes into submission at both ends of the flower with Kervin Bristol and Brandon Peel turning themselves into man mountains in the paint with the latter claiming a game-high 21 points and 14 rebounds to land the game’s MVP prize.

London, towers. Glasgow squashed.

“Captain Joseph Ikhinmwin stressed to us before the game that every game is a championship game and every team is going to come out and give us their best shot,” Peel declared.

“This game proved that from start to finish – it was definitely a fight right down until the end.

“In the end I think we executed a little bit better and we gritted it out on defence and that’s how we came up with the win.

“This is arguably the greatest moment of my career so far as a Lion. I didn’t come from a very winning background, so this means everything to me right now.”

Glasgow lent heavily on their Scottish front line of Kieron Achara, Ali Fraser and Gareth Murray to at least contend with London early in the finale but their resistance finally gave way.

That the Rocks were held scoreless for four minutes in the opening period provided a glimpse of the Lions ferocious defence.

An 8-2 run concluded by Murray levelled the game at 10-10 but London would never be equalled again.

Seven unanswered points pushed Macaulay’s men clear early in the second and an identical run to close the period extended the gap to 30-20 at half-time.

Offensively stymied, Darryl Wood’s men fared little better upon the re-start. Bristol was able to go toe to toe with Achara, Justin Robinson thrived on the opportunities thrown his way on the perimeter and time and again, the Rocks found their pathway ruthlessly blocked.

A 9-0 burst in the third tightened London’s grip and although consecutive scores from Bo Zeigler and a lay-up from Kenny Carpenter – who hit a team-high 13 points – concluded a similar flurry that cut the deficit to 54-47 with 7:49 remaining, there was no discernable shift in momentum.

Tabb completed his own double-double with 12 points and eleven rebounds and the capital outfit eased towards a deserved triumph, setting them up for the chase for more silverware from their current pole position in the league.

“I feel like we have a special group,” Robinson said. “But who knows if this group will be back together next season?
“We have to make the most of every opportunity we get.”

Lions coach Vince Macaulay’s team was as golden as his jacker (Mansoor Ahmed)

Bo Ziegler notched 12 points and ten rebounds while Achara grabbed 11 points and eight rebounds for the Rocks who have now lost in ten consecutive appearances in major finals including six in the Cup.

“Performance is the key thing,” admitted Rocks coach Darryl Wood. “You want to win every game you play. It sucks to lose and not perform. Those are the harder ones to take.

“If we’d put on a great show and London Lions had just been the better team, you can walk away from that. We’re not thinking they were better.

“We just beat ourselves and we have to learn and improve. That’s a tough hurdle and we’ll see what we’re made of mentally now.”

Game stats

WBBL Cup final: Naylor with deadly blow for Hatters

Sheffield Hatters resisted a furious comeback to beat Sevenoaks Suns 62-60 and lift the 2019 WBBL Cup in Birmingham.

Vanessa Ellis’ side shrugged off their tag as underdogs with 12 unanswered points in a six-minute first quarter blitz providing a 16-6 cushion over the unbeaten league leaders.

The Hatters, dominant in what was formerly the National Cup, relentlessly forced the Suns into poor shots that saw them missing their initial eleven three-point attempts as the gap grew into double figures in the second quarter.

Up 34-27 at half-time, Alison Gorrell’s free throw put Sheffield as much as 43-31 clear with 4:26 left in the fourth.

But Sevenoaks hit back, and ferociously. An 18-4 run saw them lead for the first time, moving 51-49 in front with 5:35 remaining.

And from them it become a bout of punches and counters. And what drama.

Renee Busch delighted her father and coach Len by nailing a pressure jumper with 7.4 seconds left as Sevenoaks led Sheffield 60-59.

Not the last word. Helen Naylor, a stalwart for Hatters, buried a three-pointer with 0.9 seconds remaining and although Cat Carr – who hit a game-high 21 points – got off a long-range attempt out of a time-out, it missed the mark.

“I knew when the ball came to me we didn’t have much time on the clock and it’s a shot I practice,” said Naylor.

“We’ve had the chance to execute that play a couple of times in games and we never have, until today – and now we are champions.”

Naylor played the hero (Mansoor Ahmed)

Gorrell paced the victors with 16 points with Sarah Toeaina adding an immense contribution of 15 points and 13 rebounds.

“I’ve said all along, it was going to be a tough game,” Ellis said.

“We know how good the Suns are, but we also know how good we are. “[This win] is about the team and the players we have, they are fantastic both on and off the court.

“It’s about pulling together and showing what a team can do. They kept going until the end and they deserve this win.”

Tayani Clark grabbed 12 points and 14 rebounds for Sevenoaks.

“It was a well fought game, but we struggled to put the ball through the hoop and when that happens it’s hard to come out on top,” Carr admitted.

“We’ll use this as motivation as we continue on through the season.”

Game stats

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