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.
Paul James celebrated 500 BBL wins on a special night in front of the BBC Sport cameras, while Glasgow Rocks have the edge in their BBL Cup Semi-Final. The Rocks edged out Surrey Scorchers 79-81 on the road after a late rally from the home side keeps their hopes alive going. Kieron Achara(208-F/C-83, college: Duquesne, agency: Two Points) led Glasgow with 24 points. Meanwhile, Worcester recorded their fifth league win of the season after beating Bristol Flyers 88-56 behind 21 points and... [read more]
Paul James celebrated 500 BBL wins on a special night in front of the BBC Sport cameras, while Glasgow Rocks have the edge in their BBL Cup Semi-Final.
The Rocks edged out Surrey Scorchers 79-81 on the road after a late rally from the home side keeps their hopes alive going. Kieron Achara (208-F/C-83, college: Duquesne, agency: Two Points) led Glasgow with 24 points.
Meanwhile, Worcester recorded their fifth league win of the season after beating Bristol Flyers 88-56 behind 21 points and 13 rebounds from Maurice Walker.
Paul James earned his 500th BBL win as a coach after his Worcester Wolves side defeated Bristol Flyers 88-56, in the first game live on the BBC Sport website.
Maurice Walker led the way with 21 points and 13 rebounds, while three other players hit double figures in the win.
Worcester raced out of the blocks and were quick to impress in front of the cameras after racking up 30 points in the opening period as they established a commanding 18-point lead.
The Flyers handed a debut to Aaron Cosby but were unable to get their offence flowing in the first half and were held to just 26 points in the half.
The lead continued to grow for Worcester and reached 30 points on an early score from Jermel Kennedy in the third. Bristol enjoyed a brighter spell with a 12-3 run, but would still be 31 points behind ahead of the last 10 minutes.
James was able to spread the minutes throughout his roster with the result all but secured and Worcester edged the final period to wrap up their fifth league win of the season.
The Flyers have now lost 11 consecutive games in the league since winning their season opener.
Glasgow Rocks have a slender advantage going into Sunday's second leg after beating Surrey Scorchers 79-81 on the road in their BBL Cup Semi-Final.
The visiting Rocks have now won 11 straight games in all competitions, but a late surge from Surrey keeps them in contention to reach the Final.
Kieron Achara top scored for Glasgow with 24 points, while Quincy Taylor also netted 24 points for Surrey with the tie still hanging in the balance.
An 8-0 run pushed the Rocks ahead and Jonny Bunyan ended the opening period with a step-back triple. Glasgow continued to hit big shots and a three from Neil Watson made it 27-34 early in the second.
The hosts hit back with a 10-2 run to move ahead, but Achara netted another three to give his side an advantage into the half-time break.
Back-to-back triples extended the gap to double digits at the midpoint in the third and the Rocks led by as many as 14 points at 50-64. The Scorchers rallied in the final quarter and went on a 9-0 run to close within two.
Bunyan stopped a four-minute rot with a three but a late score from Taylor ended the game at 79-81.
The two teams meet at the Emirates Arena on Sunday for the second leg.
Naft Abadan (Superleague) agreed terms with 25-year old British ex-international power forward Ryan Richards (212-104kg-91, agency: Three Eye Sports). He already started the season at Karpos Sokoli in FYR Macedonian Prva Liga. In four games he had 6.0ppg and 2.8rpg this season. Richards also played 1 game in Balkan League where he recorded 6 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals. In 2010 Richards was drafted by San Antonio Spurs (NBA) in second round (49th overall). His team won Iranian Superle... [read more]
Naft Abadan (Superleague) agreed terms with 25-year old British ex-international power forward Ryan Richards (212-104kg-91, agency: Three Eye Sports). He already started the season at Karpos Sokoli in FYR Macedonian Prva Liga. In four games he had 6.0ppg and 2.8rpg this season. Richards also played 1 game in Balkan League where he recorded 6 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals. In 2010 Richards was drafted by San Antonio Spurs (NBA) in second round (49th overall). His team won Iranian Superleague Regular Season in 2015. Richards was also a member of British international program for some years. He played for British Senior National Team back in 2011 and previously for U20 National Team in 2011. Richards represented United Kingdom at the European Championships U18 Division B in Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) seven years ago. His team got to the Semifinals and his stats at that event were 2 games: 29.0ppg, 13.0rpg. Richards is quite experienced player. His career allowed him to visit three different continents, while he played in fourteen different countries. Richards tasted the life as pro basketball player in Europe, Asia and of course North America. He has played previously professionally in Austria (Vienna), Bahrain (Al Ahli), Belgium, China (Guangxi), Georgia (Sokhumi), Greece (AE Ikaros Kallitheas), Hungary (Kormend), Italy, Lebanon (Sagesse), Poland (Asseco), Spain, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates (Al Naser) and Iran (Shahrdari Gorgan and Azad). On Richards:
(by Aran Smith for NBADraft.net in 2010)
A player who looks extremely impressive in a workout setting due to his size, agility and touch ... The young bigman shows the ability to shoot with both hands and has some range on his shot ... Utilizes hook shots well and has the basics of playing in the post with footwork and post moves.
Coming from England, he didn't grow up in a basketball environment and lacks the natural feel for the game that someone who does, possesses ... His basketball IQ is a work in progress.
Al Nift Baghdad (Superleague) signed 22-year old American forward Shaheed Davis (206-95kg-94, college: Cent.Florida). He already started the season at DBL Sharks Sheffield in British BBL league, but left the team in Oct.'16. In four games he had very impressive stats: 16.0ppg, 7.0rpg and 1.5bpg this season. Davis just graduated from University of Central Florida and it is his first season as a pro. He won Southern Conference in 2014. By Eurobasket Data Center Check also Complete Transfe... [read more]
Al Nift Baghdad (Superleague) signed 22-year old American forward Shaheed Davis (206-95kg-94, college: Cent.Florida). He already started the season at DBL Sharks Sheffield in British BBL league, but left the team in Oct.'16. In four games he had very impressive stats: 16.0ppg, 7.0rpg and 1.5bpg this season. Davis just graduated from University of Central Florida and it is his first season as a pro. He won Southern Conference in 2014.
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