One of the biggest stories in the British Basketball League last weekend was The Glasgow Rocks. Not only did they have a brand new arena to play in, they also had arguably one of Scotland's finest ever basketball talents out on that brand new court.
Team GB Olympian Kieron Achara (208-F/C-83, agency: Two Points, college: Duquesne) a man born in Stirling came home to make his BBL debut for Glasgow and add to the carnival atmosphere in front of 5,000 basketball fans last Sunday and whilst there was no dream ending for Rocks at the final buzzer, it was superb to see so many people there to witness the event.
The table-topping and defending BBL Champions Newcastle Eagles spoiled The Rocks party taking a 106 - 84 win after a stunningly spectacular final stanza performance. Going in to the final ten minutes Eagles led by one at 66 - 65 but simply exploded on the home side draining in 40 points in the final quarter to take a great road victory and ruin Achara's home coming.
Or did they? As despite the defeat Achara was in positive mood after a game that saw him contribute an impressive 18 pts and 14 rebounds in a losing cause.
"It was nice being back playing in front of a home crowd. It was a phenomenal crowd tonight. I had to adapt to the game, it's a lot more physical than I'm used to and it's a little bit different. But it's great to be back in Britain and I just hope that I can stay a little bit longer and adapt to the league and hopefully get a win next time around."
Clearly the physicality and the standard surprised Achara a little bit more than he expected and as usual there's always that adaptability to the league and the referring to consider. He was though quick to praise his opponents on their win.
"It was a different type of physicality. I'm used to physical leagues but there was a lot more banging off the ball and a lot more missed things by the refs. I think they let it go a lot at times and allowed play to be a little bit rougher than what I'm used to. Newcastle were phenomenal tonight. They're a great team, very well coached and credit to them they deserved the victory."
It was interesting to hear that Achara was looking to stay a little bit longer at The Rocks and in The BBL as many had questioned whether he may be a one-game wonder or not want to hang around very long. That's not the opinion he expressed.
"I'd definitely like to stay a bit longer as I'm really enjoying being home. I hope the game can build in Britain and hopefully we can get a few more people interested in the sport. Credit to Glasgow for tonight, it was a great turn-out and Newcastle supporters travelled as well and it was great to see. I'm just hoping to be here as long as possible and hope to see the game continue to grow in this country."
But, has he had any other offers and does he see himself moving on anytime soon? Achara was very honest in his reply.
"I have had offers there's just nothing I've liked so far. I'm not in any rush. I'm getting a little bit older now so I don't want to be just jumping around anywhere. It's nice to be home as I said so I'm just going to take my time. Most likely I will be leaving at some point, I just don't know when."
Moving away from his BBL experience and taking him back to the summer what was his Olympic adventure like?
"You couldn't ask for more in front of a home crowd in London. It was great for the British public to actually experience some basketball at the highest level and it was a great measure of where GB need to be. There's some talent overseas, the likes of Spain, Brazil and others. The phenomenal guard talent the phenomenal talent all throughout their leagues."
"Its a credit to their domestic leagues that they've got their best players playing domestically and from a younger age. It starts at grassroots and I'm hoping that at some point in Britain we can mirror the Spanish way of coaching, getting the kids in at a younger age and really developing their skills."
A lot of people questioned whether Team GB had a good Olympics with only one win. But with the standard being so high and being up against the very top nations how did Achara think they coped?
"I personally think we under-achieved. I think our squad was a lot better than the one win we got. But again most of our players have played and honed their game in the States and so forth and not really come through the grass roots here."
"We haven't found the way to keep the players in the UK so I'm hoping that at some point we can develop the game a bit more, keep players at a younger age instead of them going to a University over in The States, try and let them find their own basketball style here in the UK and get them to stay."
Clearly Kieron Achara is a very level-headed and realistic young man who still has a big future in the game and continues to develop. He may not be around long in The BBL this season so catch him while you can.
However, its clear he has a passion for the game in Britain and if and when he does leave he'll keep the door open for a return to his roots and could still have a big part to play in the development of the game in The UK.
Glasgow Rocks became the first team to book their spot in the BBL Cup Final after overcoming the challenge of Surrey Scorchers in Sunday's second leg. BBL Cup, SF 2nd Leg Glasgow Rocks 87 (20,45,73) (Watson 18, Achara/Thomas 13) Surrey Scorchers 73 (24,42,63) (Rollins 22, Ogedengbe 14, Taylor 12) (Rocks win 168-152 on aggregate) Glasgow Rocks booked their place in the BBL Cup Final after beating Surrey Scorchers 87-73 on Sunday for an overall 16-point victory. Sterling Davis' side hav... [read more]
Glasgow Rocks became the first team to book their spot in the BBL Cup Final after overcoming the challenge of Surrey Scorchers in Sunday's second leg.
BBL Cup, SF 2nd Leg Glasgow Rocks 87 (20,45,73) (Watson 18, Achara/Thomas 13) Surrey Scorchers 73 (24,42,63) (Rollins 22, Ogedengbe 14, Taylor 12)
(Rocks win 168-152 on aggregate)
Glasgow Rocks booked their place in the BBL Cup Final after beating Surrey Scorchers 87-73 on Sunday for an overall 16-point victory.
Sterling Davis' side have now won 12 straight games in all competitions as they make a return to the Cup Final having last participated in 2015.
Neil Watson (180-PG-91, college: S.Mississippi) led the way with 18 points and 10 assists, while Kieron Achara amassed 17 rebounds to go with 13 points with five other players reaching double figures in the win.
The Rocks made a strong start in front of their home fans with a Watson triple making it 14-4 on the night. However, the Scorchers rallied and went ahead by four by the end of the first to lead the tie on aggregate.
The visitors were still up by four with two minutes to go in the half before Glasgow scored the final seven points to lead 45-42 at the break. The Rocks pulled away in the third with a 15-4 surge.
Surrey cut the gap to 10 having trailed by as many as 17, but had a mountain to climb in the final period, which proved to be a tight, low-scoring quarter which enabled Glasgow to secure their place in the Final.
Glasgow will face either London Lions or Esh Group Eagles Newcastle in the BBL Cup Final at the Barclaycard Arena in January.
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.
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