As the buzzer sounded in Tallinn on Monday it was a familiar feeling for Great Britain. A narrow 73-70 defeat in Estonia which came just three days after an overtime defeat to Greece at Leicester Arena. Not the start to World Cup Qualifying that Britain was looking for.
But for GB captain Kieron Achara, there was more to the defeats than meets the eye.
“It was a learning week for me and the guys. We learned we can play some really good defence and that we have some good depth in our squad.”
“The issue was we were not consistent throughout the games. Whenever we lost focus we were punished by our competitors.”
Achara holds Scotland’s youngest ever international cap after playing against Ireland in Dublin aged just 16.
He was also part of the Great Britain team to compete at London 2012. He was playing in Spain at the time. In fact, only two players from the GB roster played their club basketball in the BBL. Everyone else was from overseas.
Five years on and Achara now plays for the Glasgow Rocks in the BBL, and was joined on the GB roster for World Cup Qualifying by his two club teammates Kofi Josephs and Gareth Murray. His Head Coach for Glasgow, Tony Garbelotto, recently took the reigns of the GB national team.
He played in College for 5 years at Duquesne University for five seasons, and has since been a professional around Europe, playing at a very high standard in Spain and Italy.
He is now in his third stint for the Glasgow Rocks, the only Scottish team in the BBL. The experienced big man has seen the development of British Basketball throughout his career.
“British Basketball is starting to get more exposure but I believe the biggest positive is the amount of opportunities that are arising for our younger players to continue playing the game in America, Europe and domestically. This for sure will help strengthen the talent pool.”
The BBL is gaining more and more momentum each season. Arenas are filling more than ever. The BBC broadcast games online and every BBL fixture is live streamed on livebasketball.com.
Former BBL Chairman Paul Blake once proposed an idea for all BBL arenas to accommodate at least 2,000 people in the wake of the league spiking in popularity.
Achara believes that the league need to continue to take steps to expand and improve.
“It is something that will be a necessity in the future. If we want to grow the league, club operating standards are critical to bring in TV money etc.”
“I believe a lot more has to be done than just playing in bigger arenas. Including league medical insurance, minimum salaries for athletes and stronger coaching and support staff standards. ”
“Expansion is only good if you are bringing in quality/professional teams. The league standards are the most important aspects.”
With the November international fixtures out of the way, Achara’s attention turns back to club basketball with Glasgow. The Rocks currently sit in the playoff positions and are looking to make a run in the playoffs and get to the O2 Arena for the Playoff Final in May. Achara’s role has changed through his illustrious career and is now focused on guiding the younger players on his team.
“My goals have remained the same, to win silverware. My role has been the same since I joined the Rocks, to try and lead by example and help our younger players develop.”