Paul Blake is the Chairman of the British Basketball League and after commenting on his other responsibility as Managing Director of Newcastle Eagles he switched his hats and talked about The BBL and his hopes for the league.
Paul, as Chairman of the BBL how are you seeing the league shape up this year?
"Behind the scenes there's definitely a lot of progress going on in terms of rebuilding the infrastructure of the league. It is fair to say it has had to come back from a position of losing a sizeable television deal with ITV Digital eight or nine years ago. It not only knocked our league but knocked other sports leagues as well and continues to do so.
It changed the whole culture of sports television in this country and for me its still going in a bad direction and a direction that I think the Government needs to do something about. Hopefully the Olympics will help that especially in terms of supporting so-called minority sports which I quite frankly don't think we are but we're certainly a media minority sport in this country.
Despite all that we're absolutely as a league finding our feet again. We've just taken on a new Commercial Director for the first time in seven years and are bringing new staff in to the centre, so I full expect us to start building in strength.
The thing that holds the sport back and indeed all indoor sport in this country is the paucity of indoor facilities and a reasonable number of seats for supporters which we don't seem to be capable of building in this country despite the poor weather and that's something I really can't get my head around.
But we're working hard with senior politicians that are supporting the sport right now to change that culture. Once again the Olympics are raising the fact as an issue because several untelevised sports have been in the public eye for a few weeks and quite clearly the public enjoy them.
We've still got a lot of build to do and go and the league needs a group of Clubs that are playing in facilities that have larger seating numbers and that the Clubs have more control over. If we dont reach that goal and we need help to do that then the league will be what it will be. That's not the fault of the Clubs its to do with the stage that this country allows them to play on. For example, there are only seven Arenas in this country and by comparison there are seven Arenas in Philadelphia."
Some big statements made and clearly Blake is a deep-thinking individual that cares about his product, wants to take it forward and realises that to do that there's a lot of talking and work to do. But overall he's happy with the league going forward although he was not in a position to comment on individual Clubs.
"I'm absolutely happy going forward. Its an incredibly tough time to be running any kind of a business let alone a culture changing business which is what these Clubs are trying to achieve. There's a need from all sorts of Departments and organisations to give the same level of support to this sport that other Clubs in other sports get and take for granted in this country.
Yes, we have to help ourselves as well, absolutely no question and I think were doing everything we can moving forward. But again it comes back to the basic building blocks of Clubs including the facilities the sport needs. If we can start to tackle some of those issues over the next couple of years with the people we have supporting us behind the scenes who very rarely stick their heads above the parapets as they just get on and do what they have to do then things will improve.
I have to say I keep hearing that certain media protagonists in this country keep talking this league up as the worst league in Europe. But thats absolute rubbish. There are 47 professional leagues in Europe and we know exactly where we are in relation to that. We know which leagues we are playing at a similar level to because were trading players with them.
On a year to year basis were trading players with the Czech League, the Austrian League, the Swedish League, the Finnish League, the Dutch League as obviously we as in the Newcastle Eagles have just done. We are trading players regularly with LEB Gold. That's around about where we are and that tier of leagues is not the worst in Europe and not even close to being so. That's got to give us optimism moving forward.
Clearly Blake recognises there's still a long way to go for The BBL and a lot of work to do to get there but with his forward thinking attitude he can pull people along with him and get their buy-in then there's every reason to be optimistic about the long term future of The British Basketball League.
Vardar signs Deji Adekunle, ex Plymouth R. - 17 hours ago
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Vardar Skopje (Prva Liga) signed British power forward Deji Adekunle (209-104kg, college: Kaiser). He started the season at Plymouth University Raiders in British BBL league. In 7 games he had just 2.6ppg and 2.6rpg this season. Adekunle's team won TSC Regular Season in 2016. He graduated from Kaiser University in 2015 and it is his second season as a professional player. By Eurobasket Data Center Check also Complete Transfers List in FYR Macedonia [read more]
Vardar Skopje (Prva Liga) signed British power forward Deji Adekunle (209-104kg, college: Kaiser). He started the season at Plymouth University Raiders in British BBL league. In 7 games he had just 2.6ppg and 2.6rpg this season. Adekunle's team won TSC Regular Season in 2016. He graduated from Kaiser University in 2015 and it is his second season as a professional player.
Worcester Wolves, Plymouth Raiders and London Lions all overturned half-time deficits to record victories on Friday night. Worcester won the third period 14-30 on their way to beating the recent Cup champions, Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 103-112 in front of the BBC Sport cameras. There was a huge comeback win for Plymouth Raiders as they recovered from being 20 points down to beat Bristol Flyers 98-103 in overtime and snap their rivals' six-game win streak. Meanwhile, Zaire Taylor(193-G... [read more]
Worcester Wolves, Plymouth Raiders and London Lions all overturned half-time deficits to record victories on Friday night.
Worcester won the third period 14-30 on their way to beating the recent Cup champions, Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 103-112 in front of the BBC Sport cameras.
There was a huge comeback win for Plymouth Raiders as they recovered from being 20 points down to beat Bristol Flyers 98-103 in overtime and snap their rivals' six-game win streak.
Meanwhile, Zaire Taylor (193-G-86, college: Missouri) netted 28 points to lead London Lions to a 70-67 success at home to Glasgow Rocks with both teams now standing at 10-4.
BBL Championship London Lions 70 (22,33,52) (Taylor 28, Owumi 16, K Williams 14) Glasgow Rocks 67 (24,38,49) (Watson 25, Thomas 14, Achara 10)
London Lions claimed their 10th league win of the season after holding off Glasgow Rocks for a 70-67 victory.
Zaire Taylor led the way with 28 points and also dished out seven assists as the Lions improve to 10-4.
Lewis Thomas hit back-to-back triples to put the Rocks up 12-19 in the first, but the home side closed the gap to two by the end of the first.
The lead peaked in the second on a 9-0 run for the visitors to make it 24-33, but the Lions finished the quarter well once again as they began to mount a comeback.
Taylor scored six early points in the third before an 8-0 run put the Lions ahead, and they maintained a slender advantage ahead of the final 10 minutes. Glasgow levelled with the first score of the fourth period, but a trio of triples gave the hosts the upper-hand.
Taylor hit a huge three to make it 68-63 inside the final two minutes, and although Watson answered, Taylor nailed a pair of free throws which proved to be enough for the win.
The Rocks were paced by Watson's 25 points, while Kieron Achara finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Worcester Wolves produced an impressive display to pull off a 103-112 victory away at the recent Cup champions, Esh Group Eagles Newcastle.
Paul James' side were down five at the half, but turned things around with a huge third quarter before holding off a late fightback from the Eagles in front of the BBC Sport cameras.
Maurice Walker, Ashton Khan and Danny Huffor all netted 20+ points with three other players in double figures in the Wolves' seventh league success.
The Eagles made a strong start before being pegged back by Worcester's hot streak from downtown. Rahmon Fletcher's mid-range jumpshot edged his side ahead and they extended their lead to five by half-time.
However, there was to be a twist in the second half as the Wolves came out firing in the third and racked up 30 points to open up a 12-point advantage.
The visitors stretched their lead out to 18 in the fourth and despite a rally from the Eagles, they were left with to much to do and suffered their third league defeat despite 34 points and 13 assists from Fletcher.
BBL Championship, OT Bristol Flyers 98 (22,48,71,88) (Cosby 20, Smith 18, Boggs 17) Plymouth Raiders 103 (20,37,55,88) (Corletto 29, Dixon 20, Nicholas 17)
Plymouth Raiders came from 20 points down to beat their South-West rivals Bristol Flyers 98-103 in overtime.
The visitors were down 71-51 inside the final two minutes of the third, but rallied with a huge fourth quarter before securing the win in the extra period.
Daryl Corletto netted seven triples including two late in the fourth to force overtime on his way to an impressive 29-point haul.
Cory Dixon added 20 points, while Rhys Carter flirted with a triple-double with 14 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists as the Raiders level the head-to-head series.
The Flyers edged an even first period, but pulled clear in the second after finishing the half with a 9-0 run to lead by 11 at the half.
Bristol continued to extend their advantage and led by 20 before the Raiders put together a 19-5 spell across quarters to cut the gap and later levelled at 80.
An 8-2 run put the Flyers in control only for Corletto hit two 3-pointers in the final 20 seconds to force overtime.
Plymouth compiled another key run with 11 unanswered points late in overtime to complete the comeback victory to improve to 10-6 in the league.
Texas Legends agreed terms with experienced 34-year old American guard Ben Gordon (190-91kg-83, college: Connecticut). He is a dual citizen owning also British passport. Gordon played last season at Golden State Warriors in the NBA. The previous (14-15) season he played at the Magic where in 56 NBA games he had 6.2ppg and 1.1rpg. In 2004 Gordon was drafted by Chicago Bulls (NBA) as #3 pick overall. The former University of Connecticut staris in his 13th (hopefully lucky) season in pro bas... [read more]
Texas Legends agreed terms with experienced 34-year old American guard Ben Gordon (190-91kg-83, college: Connecticut). He is a dual citizen owning also British passport. Gordon played last season at Golden State Warriors in the NBA. The previous (14-15) season he played at the Magic where in 56 NBA games he had 6.2ppg and 1.1rpg. In 2004 Gordon was drafted by Chicago Bulls (NBA) as #3 pick overall. The former University of Connecticut staris in his 13th (hopefully lucky) season in pro basketball. Gordon was also a member of USA international program for some years. He played for USA Senior National Team back in 2003 and previously for U18 National Team in 2000. Gordon represented USA at the Qualifications to European Championships 2017 last year. His stats at that event were 6 games: 9.2ppg, 4.2rpg, 3.3apg, FGP: 26.3%, 3PT: 34.6%, FT: 72.7%. Gordon has spent his entire career in NBA playing for two other teams: Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets. Gordon could be described:
Athletic combination guard with high basketball I.Q. .Superb leaper with excellent shooting range.
Outlook (by NBADraft.TK):
Positives: Ben Gordon is a great combo guard. A great scorer with a versatile offensive game. He is a deadly three-point shooter. Not just a long-range bomber, he has a good midrange game and is a good free throw shooter. Has the ability to take it strong to the hoop with exceptional strength and quickness for his size. Has a great handle as and is also good passer. Gordon is also a great athlete. Very quick and has great leaping ability. Has a near 40-inch vertical, which allows him to throw down impressive dunks despite his size. A solid defender, he uses his strength and lateral quickness well. A good rebounder for the guard position.
Negatives: Not a natural point guard. Gordon's ability to run the point os questionable. He played shooting guard at UConn with Taliek Brown as the point. Might be better at the shooting guard, but will have to play point guard in the NBA. (Jason Terry, Steve Francis). Can be a streaky shooter.
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