I can’t understand the desire for American sports to bring one of their matches over to the United Kingdom and call it a “home game”.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great for fans of the NFL and NBA that get to see some of their favourite elite players in venues like Wembley and the O2. What’s wrong with channelling some of that positive feeling into our own basketball league?
The British Basketball League held one of its most prestigious competitions, the BBL Cup, at the weekend, taking place in the decently-sized National Indoor Arena, Birmingham. For what I hear, it was a cracker of a match as Leicester Riders stole the trophy from the mighty Newcastle Eagles with an 85-80 win. The atmosphere was supposedly electric and was a great advertisement for a growing basketball country. Sure, the game was televised on Sky Sports and BBC Sport gave it a brief mention afterwards, but I’m left thinking the country on the whole have no idea what just happened.
UK Sport’s decision to completely cull all funding for basketball was a travesty and I can only hope their appeal works. I’ll admit that I’m not a huge fan of the sport and ones like it (handball, water polo) but there are many that are and most likely won’t have a chance at seeing Team GB at future Olympic Games. Perhaps if we took lessons from the NBA and made basketball more exciting and enticing, it wouldn’t need government funding. Unfortunately, it does. Cheshire Phoenix, formerly the Jets, showed what a precarious position the BBL is in and were fortunate to stay in the game. Others may not be so lucky.
The regular season returns tomorrow with both Newcastle and Leicester getting stuck into defending their league positions. Leicester are right in the thick of it, hosting third placed Surrey Heat. A win for Leicester would put them four points ahead of their rivals and would likely keep them joint with Newcastle at the top. The Eagles have a comparatively easier time against Sheffield Sharks, although they will need to watch out for a team that have improved their form in recent weeks and were three points from beating Surrey a couple of weeks ago.
Elsewhere, Manchester Giants play twice in two days in a bid to improve their league position, the first a vital match against the London Lions. Worcester Wolves and Sheffield also play two games. Durham Wildcats and Glasgow Rocks are in action, as well.