Brexit: How can British Basketball move forward?

The result of the EU referendum has been for Great Britain to leave the European Union! I’m sure you’ve seen many, expressing their disgust on social media at the result – I know I definitely have!

In my post on knowing your situation and pathway – I touched on something I called ‘special constraints’. The result of the EU referendum is a perfect example of just that, a change in situation, which can impact one’s career.

More opportunities for British players in domestic competition was one of the possibilities covered following Brexit. Today I’ll be writing on the opportunities for young Brits in particular.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUNG BRIT BALLERS

With a plethora of academies existing in the UK, I find that there are almost no real long-term opportunities for elite academy players. Changing could mean sustainable improvement for our domestic level of play.

CHALLENGE #1 – Contrast in Amount of Training

Players of elite academies receive up to 12hrs training each week. However, once such players complete their time at their institution, the amount of training, will be significantly less in a men’s team –  a problem if a player’s successful transition from junior to men’s basketball was due to the sheer exposure to vast amounts of training; less training could stagnate or even regress their development.

 

CHALLENGE #2 – Youth Playing time

The best players at academy level, can play upwards of 30mpg. With the level of play being higher on the men’s level to due to skill and experience , the role/minutes of such players are likely to be drastically lowered. According to FIBA, the average  U21 player, plays just 5.2 minutes per game, globally.

 

CHALLENGE #3 – The Nature of the BBL

The nature of the BBL needs to change, in order to maximise long-term stability and sustainability. Here’s why…

BBL rosters are mostly comprised of veterans and import players (including naturalised players). Although this somewhat guarantees high level of play, the long-term strength of the league can be seen as unstable.

Remember in my first article I spoke a lot about what Career Builders were? Similarly, In general, Americans are use the BBL as a means to build their careers, a stepping-stone. The majority of these players stay less than two years, with hopes of moving to a better league– nothing wrong with that, but one must remember that with every decision, comes an implication.

tbvdef-career-builder

IMPLICATION #1 ROSTER INSTABILITY

The San Antonio Spurs – oldest roster in the NBA, have been very consistent in the past years, thanks to retaining their core and team chemistry level!

Franchise players (imports) being Career Builders, is risky as it can mean that every season a new core will have to be developed. In the BBL, nearly all of teams’ starting point guards (most important position in basketball) are American. Should these players leave, there will be a great void in the team needing to be filled. Such dynamics in a team’s roster can make performing consistently an extremely difficult task.

IMPLICATION #2 – THE MESSAGE SENT TO BRITISH PLAYERS

In my first post, I explained why playing basketball in NCAA D1 gives the best chance of having a successful professional career. That being said, being D1 alumni only gives you the advantage over American players in the same situation – due to having a European passport. In my opinion, it gives no credit to the standard of basketball in the UK.

With the nature of the basketball job market being based on experience and the standard of that experience, a subliminal message is sent to aspiring Brit players, that you must go abroad in order to take your talents to the next level!

Unfortunately, it’s true. Youth are generally overlooked for BBL spots, thus almost forced to play overseas, where they too, will be imports. in an inferior league to keep their hoop careers going.

WHY IT’S DANGEROUS

Believe it or not, everyone has an opinion on the level/style of play of a nation (kinda like how everyone knows Lithuanians shoot 3s well). The stigma around British basketball is that the level of play isn’t strong  we have the second highest negative balance of export/import ratio globally. Combined with the overlooking of young domestic players in the BBL. The implied message to the aspiring could be…

You aren’t valued to such a level, that you aren’t even trusted to perform in your own homeland, how can we expect you to be any good to us?

-Probable thoughts of those in charge of hiring players abroad on Brit hoops


To improve the overall value of a nation’s basketball level, the domestic level must increase – Powerhouses are not made overnight.

-The Baller’s Voice

 

Powerhouse basketball nations don’t send such messages to their players –  in general, opportunities are there in the players’ native country. They’re aware that the young players of today are the veterans of tomorrow.


WHAT SERBIA DOES TO EXCEL!

Serbia, not in the EU mind you, are a perfect example of a European powerhouse in basketball. With an export to import ratio, second only to America, they’re also are ranked #2 in percentage of players under the age of 21, (25.5%!), and in minutes per game for players of the same age category (25.5)!

No wonder they produce the most NCAA D1 International players in the continent!

What’s more interesting?  Young team, KK Mega Vizura (47.4% of the players are under the age of 21) of the Serbian league, won the  2016 Serbian cup, which goes to show that something is being done right in the transition of their basketball from juniors to men’s level.

This sustainable method to running a team is brilliant because these players not only get to play in their hometown and draw fans (ticket sales!) they are more probable to remain there for their entirety of their basketball careers – less likely for imports.

With more certainty and team chemistry the league is much stronger, by level of play and how the country is esteemed by other nations. We need to learn from Serbia if British basketball is ever to be looked at by other nations seriously.

Developing our young talent into tomorrow’s veterans in this way will mean an initial compromise of overall strength of the league, but just like the British Pound post Brexit poll, the long-term plan is to make it stronger than ever before!

Serbia has managed to do all of this despite not being in the EU, what will our excuse be?

 

 

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