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.
DBL Sharks Sheffield have taken the late decision to make one final addition prior to the signing deadline, with Max Guercy(175-PG-94, college: Rice) joining the roster to provide more depth and strength in the backcourt. The guard concluded his collegiate career at Rice University last year and started this season in Czech Republic with NH Ostrava. The playmaker played all four years at Rice University, finishing the all-time leader in assists and assists to turnover ratio, something wh... [read more]
DBL Sharks Sheffield have taken the late decision to make one final addition prior to the signing deadline, with Max Guercy (175-PG-94, college: Rice) joining the roster to provide more depth and strength in the backcourt.
The guard concluded his collegiate career at Rice University last year and started this season in Czech Republic with NH Ostrava. The playmaker played all four years at Rice University, finishing the all-time leader in assists and assists to turnover ratio, something which will only add to the Sharks' current guard core.
'I wanted to bring Max in to add depth and another primary point guard to share the load with Jordan Davis,' stated head coach, Atiba Lyons.
'Max is a hard-nosed and tough defender that will bring energy and add pressure on our opponents on both ends of the court,' he added.
Guercy arrives just in time to help the Sharks as they go on the road to play back-to back games against Bristol and Plymouth. Both opponents are showing strong form and are coming off some outstanding performances as of late.
'I am very excited to be in Sheffield and joining the Sharks,' said Guercy.
'Coach Lyons made my role clear and I just want to do what I can to help this team to win a championship.'
While the Sharks are on the road this weekend, they will return to Sheffield for the first time in a month on 10 March when they will play Glasgow Rocks.
Leicester Riders and Plymouth Raiders will contest the 2017 BBL Trophy Final after sealing their places for the showpiece event at the Emirates Arena. Plymouth advanced to their first final since 2012 with a 179-168 aggregate success, despite losing the second leg 90-83. Trevor Setty netted 26 points with Worcester Wolves leading 43-25 at one stage to tie the game on aggregate before falling short. Meanwhile, Leicester Riders secured their return to Glasgow for a third straight Trophy... [read more]
Leicester Riders and Plymouth Raiders will contest the 2017 BBL Trophy Final after sealing their places for the showpiece event at the Emirates Arena.
Plymouth advanced to their first final since 2012 with a 179-168 aggregate success, despite losing the second leg 90-83.
Trevor Setty netted 26 points with Worcester Wolves leading 43-25 at one stage to tie the game on aggregate before falling short.
Meanwhile, Leicester Riders secured their return to Glasgow for a third straight Trophy Final after beating Cheshire Phoenix in a weekend double-header.
The defending champions recorded a 91-71 home victory on Saturday before completing the job with a 64-84 road win less than 24 hours later to complete a 175-135 aggregate triumph.
Taylor King scored 19 points against his former side in the second leg win as the Riders poured in 34 points in the second period to go into half-time with a dominant overall advantage.
"Real proud of the guys and we're excited to be going to another final," enthused head coach Rob Paternostro .
"Over the 80 minutes, I thought we were solid, especially defensively.
"When you win 14 in a row, it's something special and I think the guys just believe in each other."
Worcester bounced back from their Trophy exit and made it two wins on the weekend as Danny Huffor netted 28 points in a 77-89 success away at Surrey Scorchers.
"Once Danny gets going, we have just got to keep feeding him the ball," said Maurice Walker.
"He's pretty consistent once he gets going and we were able to find him a lot.
"We were all tired from the Plymouth game, but we gave it our all and played pretty hard.
"We ended up playing a pretty smart game, and put it together for the win."
Meanwhile, in league play, Bristol Flyers earned a 73-72 success over London Lions in dramatic fashion as Brandon Boggs netted a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Glasgow Rocks kept up the pressure on the league's top two as they inflicted a 98-80 defeat on Plymouth with Kieron Achara netting 26 points.
The GB captain went 5-of-6 from 3-point range with Gareth Murray making all six of his attempts from downtown in a 20-point haul to help their side improve to 16-5.
Also, Leeds Force picked up their fifth league win as they defeated Manchester Giants 71-81 away from home behind a combined 40 points from Jack Isenbarger and Robert Sandoval.
Leicester Riders set up a BBL Trophy Final showdown with Plymouth Raiders, while Glasgow Rocks and Leeds Force picked up league wins on Sunday. Rob Paternostro's side defeated Cheshire Phoenix 64-84 as they completed an overall 135-175 success on aggregate with Taylor King scoring 19 points in the road win. Meanwhile, the Rocks knocked down 19 3-pointer on their way to a 98-80 victory over Plymouth Raiders with GB captain Kieron Achara(208-F/C-83, college: Duquesne, agency: Two Points)... [read more]
Leicester Riders set up a BBL Trophy Final showdown with Plymouth Raiders, while Glasgow Rocks and Leeds Force picked up league wins on Sunday.
Rob Paternostro's side defeated Cheshire Phoenix 64-84 as they completed an overall 135-175 success on aggregate with Taylor King scoring 19 points in the road win.
Meanwhile, the Rocks knocked down 19 3-pointer on their way to a 98-80 victory over Plymouth Raiders with GB captain Kieron Achara (208-F/C-83, college: Duquesne, agency: Two Points) netting a game-high 26 points.
Leeds Force secured an important win at the bottom as 21 points from Jack Isenbarger helped his side overcome Manchester Giants in a 71-81 road victory.
BBL Trophy Semi-Final, Second Leg Cheshire Phoenix 64 (15,29,47) (Allen-Jordan 19, Adekoya/May-Thompson 12) Leicester Riders 84 (13,47,65) (King 19, Clark 16, Thomson 15)
Riders win 135-175 on aggregate.
Leicester Riders secured their place in the BBL Trophy Final with a 64-84 victory away at Cheshire Phoenix completing a convincing overall success.
The defending champions trailed after 10 minutes on the night, but responded with a huge second period en route to a 135-175 triumph on aggregate.
Taylor King top scored with 19 points with four players reaching double figures as the Riders extended their club-record win streak to 14 games.
The home side made an 8-2 start and still led by the end of the first period despite being pegged back by the Riders. However, the game changed in the second as Leicester went on a 15-2 run in the midst of racking up 34 points to establish an 18-point lead at the half.
The damage had been done with Cheshire needing to win the second half by at least 38 points, though they continued to fight and shared the third period to halt their opponents' charge.
Leicester edged the final quarter to secure back-to-back 20-point wins to book their place at the Emirates Arena in style.
Dii'jon Allen-Jordan scored 19 points off the bench for Cheshire, but they were unable to overturn the first-leg deficit and focus now turns to their push for the Play-Offs.
The Riders have now reached the BBL Trophy Final in four of the last five years and will play Plymouth Raiders on 19 March.
Glasgow Rocks closed the gap on the league's top two after beating Plymouth Raiders 98-80 behind an impressive shooting display from long range.
The home side continued to pull away throughout the game as they improve to a 16-5 record, whilst claiming the head-to-head between the two sides.
Kieron Achara finished with a game-high 26 points, while Gareth Murray and Neil Watson added 20 points apiece as the trio made 15 3-pointers between them.
Watson opened with back-to-back triples and added a third late in the opening period as both teams struggled to get going with Plymouth shooting below 25% after the first.
The visitors made a better start to the second and quickly doubled their points total, but Kieron Achara knocked down consecutive threes to help the Rocks establish a 34-24 advantage.
Glasgow made nine threes in the first half, but it was a triple from Daryl Corletto - who finished with 21 points - that ended the half as his side went into the interval, down 45-36.
The Rocks continued to find their range from downtown in the third as the lead increased to 15 points before another strong surge in the fourth. Plymouth trailed by as many as 24 points and produced a late run, but it was not enough as they fell to their 10th league defeat.
The Raiders will return to the Emirates Arena for the BBL Trophy Final on 19 March.
BBL Championship Manchester Giants 71 (11,30,47) (Okoro 16, Jones 14, Trobo 11) Leeds Force 81 (22,39,54) (Isenbarger 21, Sandoval 19, Marsden/Matthew 14)
Leeds Force avoided dropping to the bottom of the BBL Championship after beating Manchester Giants 71-81 for their fifth league victory.
Jack Isenbarger led the way with 21 points, while Robert Sandoval added valuable support with 19 points along with nine assists as he narrowly missed out on a double-double.
After an even start, Eddie Matthew exploded for all of his 14 points in a 16-2 burst to help Force establish lead 6-20. The Giants responded with a 12-0 run across quarters, only for Leeds to respond in kind with the next 12 points.
The lead was cut to single figures at the half, and despite trailing by 14 in the third, the Giants halved their deficit ahead of the final period.
Manchester closed to within three early in the fourth, but were kept at bay and a 9-2 run from the visitors proved decisive as they wrapped up the victory.
Jerelle Okoro led the Giants with 16 points but they remain bottom with a 4-21 record as they face a tough battle to make the Play-Offs.
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