April 23 2014 Latest news:
Exclusive by James Cunliffe
Friday, February 14, 2014
London Lions forward Adrien Sturt has called UK Sport’s decision to strip all basketball funding “appalling” as it damages young players’ dreams of representing their country.
The financial support was removed last week after Britain’s men’s and women’s teams failed to meet their targets in last summer’s EuroBaskets - targets set out when basketball won an appeal against a funding cut this time last year.
UK Sport said that it saw little hope of Britain becoming competitive in time to challenge for a medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Australian-born 6ft 11ins centre Sturt, who qualified for Great Britain through family roots in the UK and earned under-23 international caps, said of the decision to remove the four-year £7million programme: “To cut it is appalling,” adding: “I think it’s a very poor decision.
“GB has come a long way from where they were five years ago when I played for them, especially people like [NBA star] Luol Deng who have committed to the programme for so long now.
“For them to drop funding hurts GB basketball a lot. Back in Australia they’ve progressed for so long that you need that here for GB.
“It’s about the legacy, as they call it, and building upon that. They’ve made huge strides in the last few years and if they got the funding they can make some more.”
London-born GB captain Drew Sullivan last week wrote an open letter to all players, urging youngsters not to give up hope and this week British Basketball announced it is to challenge the decision. It will start by trying to secure a reprieve by making representations to the UK Sport board. A formal appeal is also possible if that proves to be unsuccessful.
Asked if he could see UK Sport’s decision overturned, Sturt said: “I would hope so. I guess it’s about the bigger picture.
“Young kids all the way up are involved in basketball and if you take the funding away then what do they have to aim for?
“As a basketball player you would like to play for your country but if you don’t have that to aim for where do you go from there?”
London Lions travel to second placed Newcastle Eagles tonight before the visit of champions Leicester Riders a fortnight later in two clashes that could be crucial for their aims of finishing in the BBL top four.
Sturt said: “We definitely want to get in that top four, try to work our way up from there and see how we go. Obviously third and second is better than fourth but we want to be in the top four so we have home game advantage.”