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.
Myles Hesson and Devon Van Oostrum Suffer Season-Ending Injuries - 13 hours ago
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Myles Hesson (198-F-90) and Devon Van Oostrum (190-G-93, agency: Octagon Europe) both face long spells on the sidelines after sustaining season-ending injuries. Both players took to social media to make their announcements which will come as a double blow to GB ahead of this summer's EuroBasket tournament. Hesson was having another strong season in France - with a Pro-A career-high 29 points last month - and averaged 12.4 points and 5.1 rebounds per game on the season. The forward had als... [read more]
Myles Hesson (198-F-90) and Devon Van Oostrum (190-G-93, agency: Octagon Europe) both face long spells on the sidelines after sustaining season-ending injuries. Both players took to social media to make their announcements which will come as a double blow to GB ahead of this summer's EuroBasket tournament. Hesson was having another strong season in France - with a Pro-A career-high 29 points last month - and averaged 12.4 points and 5.1 rebounds per game on the season. The forward had also impressed for Gravelines in the FIBA Europe Cup this season and revealed he has had surgery after fracturing his tibia. 'I'm sad to announce that I will miss the remainder of the season,' Hesson said on Facebook. 'I have broken my shin bone. Surgery went well so now I'm on the road to recovery. 'I'm a firm believer in the saying 'that what doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger' - I will return better than ever.' According to French website, 'La Voix Du Nord', the club's physio estimates Hesson being out for around 3-4 months. Meanwhile, Van Oostrum had recently joined MZT Skopje to play in the Adriatic League alongside Daniel Clark (210-F/C-88) following a spell in Greece. The 24-year-old guard was averaging 8.7 points per game, but a torn ACL has curtailed his season. Van Oostrum and Hesson both played together on the squad that competed in GB's last EuroBasket four years ago. Courtesy of: hoopsfix.com
Manchester Magic retain National Trophy title as Team Newcastle University clasp Cup & Sussex Bears seal Shield success - 1 day ago
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Manchester Magic maintained their spell over London Lituanica for a second weekend in succession to defend their National Trophy crown with an authoritative 81-53 victory at Hertfordshire Sports Village on Sunday. Having defeated their opponents 74-61 in Division One of the National Basketball League a week ago, it was simply a case of different day, same story as Manchester achieved a swift double in league and cup over the club from the capital. A game-high 19 points and five rebounds w... [read more]
Manchester Magic maintained their spell over London Lituanica for a second weekend in succession to defend their National Trophy crown with an authoritative 81-53 victory at Hertfordshire Sports Village on Sunday. Having defeated their opponents 74-61 in Division One of the National Basketball League a week ago, it was simply a case of different day, same story as Manchester achieved a swift double in league and cup over the club from the capital. A game-high 19 points and five rebounds were more than enough for standout star Duane Morgan (198-F-93, college: Adelphi) to emerge from this one-sided outing as the MVP. Magic's Stefan Gill (173-PG-83) (16 points and eight assists), captain Jack Minister (196-G-86) (14 points and six rebounds) and Simon Anumba (11 points and eight rebounds) chalked up double digits to boot against a lacklustre Lituanica, who struggled to keep pace throughout despite the best efforts of Mantas Guzys (180-PG-93) (15 points and seven rebounds) and Mantas Adomaitis (203-F, college: Oklah.Panhandle) (10 points and seven rebounds). 'This was my first opportunity to play in a championship game and it's a really good feeling to have won it,' Morgan said. 'We knew that we had to shut them down on defence, so that was a big emphasis for us, along with our high-tempo game. 'We now want to win the league and finish up as the number one side in Division One. 'There's a great group of guys here at the Manchester Magic. They've been very welcoming and made me feel right at home. I feel like I've been playing with them for a long time. You want to play for your brothers and I feel like they are mine.' Earlier on in the day, Team Newcastle University came away with the Patron's Cup courtesy of a 77-65 success against Kent Crusaders and Sussex Bears clinched the Men's National Shield thanks to a tense and tight 58-57 triumph over Team Birmingham Elite. Kent Crusaders began the first quarter in earnest fashion, yet Team Newcastle University soon recovered from a somewhat sluggish start and never looked back thereafter. Indeed, the Knights bookmarked the game brilliantly - winning the opening stanza 24-16 and the fourth and final one 24-18 to render the narrow losses in between (18-17 and 13-12) rather redundant. Team Newcastle's Richard Austin registered 21 points, 10 rebounds and six assists to claim the MVP accolade. He was well supported on offence by Jack Beresford (17 points), Frank Urli (14 points and six assists) and Matt Brown (196-F) (12 points). RJ Eytle-Rock (192-SG-98) produced a game-high 23 points in the Kent Crusaders' challenge for the silverware and Mohamed Adamu and Dan Akin both scored 10 on a day when the Shodipo brothers, John (four) and Tim (one), both failed to fire. 'The Kent Crusaders have an excellent programme and they are a credit to British basketball in terms of where they're going,' said Team Newcastle University head coach Ian Hewitt. 'But, we're just as talented as them, we played outstanding basketball today and we're a little bit older and more mature. I think that showed as well. 'We fought like crazy defensively too and it was just a great win. We wanted the Cup and we stepped up massively, which was fantastic to see. 'We've held Thames Valley to 66 and Kent to 65 now. It just shows what we're doing defensively and - offensively - we simply look better and better every week, so we're excited about the rest of the season. We are going to keep getting better.' Sussex Bears meanwhile held an eight-point cushion heading into the last 10 minutes having won the second quarter (17-11) by six points and the first and third (both 13-12) by one apiece. However, they very nearly blew it as Team Birmingham Elite came storming back late on to set up a nerve-jangling finale. Steven Hansell (192-G-75, college: Illinois St., agency: Court Side)'s side just couldn't drain that crucial basket down the stretch to ensure overtime or snatch a previously unlikely W though and Sussex prevailed by the narrowest of margins. The Bears' Hank Rivers (202-F-81, college: SF Austin) produced a performance of Superman-esque proportions in keeping with his choice of socks for the day. His 25 point-haul and 14 rebounds saw him deservedly pick up the MVP award ahead of other worthy candidates like his Sussex team-mate Bud Johnson (pictured below), who provided 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists overall. Darren Mason also plucked 15 rebounds out of the air. Team Birmingham Elite had two players progress beyond single-figure tallies in Meris Masolovic (17 points and nine rebounds) and David Stevic (14 points). 'It feels good to have finally won a final as I've been in England for almost nine years now,' the amiable Rivers stated afterwards. 'It's nice to have won for the people that I know as they really are like a family to me. 'We've been together for so many years and there's a good atmosphere. We feel like we're moving up every year, so you cannot complain about that. 'It was a scrappy game. Team Birmingham Elite are young and we inherently knew that they were going to get runs, but we pulled it out in end. The main thing is that we got it done - that's all that matters.' Courtesy of: basketballengland.co.uk
Surrey Scorchers moved into the Play-Off places after a blistering display in front of the BBC Sport cameras on Friday. Creon Raftopoulos' side torched Plymouth Raiders in the second half en route to a 99-75 victory behind 25 points from Quincy Taylor(183-PG-91, college: Longwood). "It was one of those special nights and I'm glad we were able to perform," Surrey's head coach commented post-game. "I think we showed four quarters of maturity and it was great to come out quick in the thir... [read more]
Surrey Scorchers moved into the Play-Off places after a blistering display in front of the BBC Sport cameras on Friday.
Creon Raftopoulos' side torched Plymouth Raiders in the second half en route to a 99-75 victory behind 25 points from Quincy Taylor (183-PG-91, college: Longwood).
"It was one of those special nights and I'm glad we were able to perform," Surrey's head coach commented post-game.
"I think we showed four quarters of maturity and it was great to come out quick in the third.
"We took a gamble on Quincy late in the half as he had two fouls, but made a really big play and that gave us a lift going into the locker-room."
Plymouth bounced back on Sunday as they came from 12 points down in the fourth to beat Cheshire Phoenix 110-116 in double overtime.
Earl Brown had a season-high 43 points as he and Mike DiNunno combined for 74 in the loss with Cory Dixon leading the victors with 25 points as four Raiders hit 20+.
Meanwhile, Leicester Riders extended their lead at the top with back-to-back victories over Manchester Giants with a 98-73 home success followed by a 73-99 road victory.
Scott Martin exploded for 41 points to help Esh Group Eagles Newcastle keep up the pressure on the leaders with a 108-94 victory over Bristol Flyers.
Glasgow Rocks were victorious at the Emirates Arena as they saw off Cheshire Phoenix 95-82, while DBL Sharks Sheffield complete the top four after edging past rivals, Leeds Force 58-62 away from home.
Worcester Wolves were another team to overturn a double-digit deficit as they recovered from a slow start to beat London Lions 99-91 with 16 made 3-pointers helping them to the win.
"It was a good win against London," declared Danny Huffor. "The first half was back and forward, but in the second half we found our rhythm, got some stops which helped our offence.
"Our ball movement was good as it opened up driving lanes that also created open shots as well."
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