Blogs & Opinion


Daniel Routledge blogs on Surrey's struggles, magic Manchester and the future of British basketball

Features Posted 23rd January 2013 view comments

The race for the BBL title took a significant turn last weekend, with Surrey Heat dropping two games and falling off the pace.

Leicester and Newcastle now have a four-point cushion at the top of the table and they have a game in hand on the Heat, leaving Surrey three defeats behind in the race for the big prize.

I wouldn't totally rule out Surrey or Plymouth yet, but with five defeats already it would take a brave punter to put much money on them.

Holmes: his absence could damage Surrey's BBL hopes (pic credit: Ville Vuorinen)

Holmes: his absence could damage Surrey's BBL hopes (pic credit: Ville Vuorinen)

It seems unlikely that both the Riders and Eagles will lose enough games to pull the two southern teams back into serious consideration and, just as they did in the Cup Final, Leicester and Newcastle will likely be slugging it out for the league.

That will certainly be the case if Chavis Holmes is out for any length of time. In our televised game, he definitely didn't look the player who has hitherto, in my opinion at least, been one of the front-runners for Player of the Season.

That our elected representatives will spend time discussing British basketball's funding situation can only be a good thing, I think.

Daniel Routledge
Quotes of the week

He has been struggling with a groin problem recently and that saw him miss Sunday's defeat at Leicester, as the Riders celebrated their cup success with a 30-point win over the Heat.

It was some week for Rob Paternostro; he won the cup a week ago Sunday, turned 40 last Wednesday, won Coach of the Year in the local newspaper's annual awards on the Thursday and then recorded a 20th consecutive home win last Sunday.

I was with him when he won that local honour, sadly for him we were both at the NBA game at the O2 so he found out by text he was the first Riders' coach to claim the prize and wasn't there in person.

I guess the only consolation is given how well the Riders have started 2013, he might just be in contention come next January as well!

Leggy

Back to Surrey and they picked the wrong weekend to have their first away double-header of the season.

The snow meant they had an eight-plus hour trip to Manchester on Friday night and certainly they looked a little leggy against the Giants and I'm guessing getting to Leicester on Sunday wasn't much more fun.

Take nothing away from Manchester, though, they deserved their victory and certainly won all the hustle and effort plays. I thought David Watts typified what they are all about, but as I said to him in the interview afterwards the Giants have lots of different guys who contribute.

There was a big grin on Jeff Jones' face after the game as they finally closed out a game against one of the leading sides as they have been threatening to do all season.

He has since described that as their best performance of the season and I wondered if that may be the catalyst for their campaign - and they almost proved that to be the case by taking the Raiders to double OT in Plymouth 24 hours later.

It's an intriguing race for play-off places with seemingly five teams battling it out for the last two places. It certainly looks hard to call down in those seventh-11th places in the table.

Response

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my disappointment at UK Sport's decision to withdraw funding from British basketball, which coupled with Sport England's reduction in grassroots funding was a really double-whammy for the sport.

I have to say the response from the sport, led by the British Basketball Union, which represents the GB teams, the BBL, England Basketball and Basketball Scotland, has been really impressive.

They have seized the initiative and it was noticeable that the Minister of Sport was in the Sunday papers reacting to the BBU agenda. As with most things in politics, it is about the nuance of the discussion as much as anything else.

Also Stephen Mosley MP, Chairman of the BBL Foundation, has been successful in getting an Adjournment Debate on the matter in the House of Commons next week.

That our elected representatives will spend time discussing our funding situation can only be a good thing, I think, and it did make me wonder if basketball has even been a topic of discussion in the Chamber before?

Now I must confess I'm not much of one for the politics of sport, but then neither are the kids in Hackney, Highfields or Handsworth who, let's face it, are those most affected by these political decisions.

They just want to play the game and I just want to enjoy watching the best of them in the BBL and playing for Great Britain in the future.

David Stern, Commissioner of the NBA, FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann and Sir Clive Woodward are all behind British basketball on this argument and these are all powerful voices.

I can only hope that Mr Mosley, Sharon Hodgson MP, chair of the Basketball All Party Parliament Group, who has been very vocal in her condemnation of the funding cuts, and the likes can be successful in their lobbying.

In my mind the metrics are ridiculous and the argument is a very powerful one, it's certainly hard for me to see a valid position on the other side.

But I am just one person so on an individual level all I can do is sign the e-petitions asking the government to change these decisions, which I have done.

As fans of the game, at whatever level, I would urge you to do likewise at fundbritishbasketball.com.

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