EuroBasket 2015: GB co-captain Kieron Achara eyes Rio 2016

EuroBasket 2015: GB Basketball co-captain Kieron Achara is desperate for wins against Iceland and Bosnia

EuroBasket 2015: GB co-captain Kieron Achara eyes Rio 2016

GB Basketball co-captain Kieron Achara insists that the team must beat Iceland and Bosnia in their upcoming EuroBasket qualification matches and reach the finals in Ukraine next summer if they are to have any chance of receiving a funding boost ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

The 31-year-old from Stirling is one of the most experienced players in the squad and is hoping to qualify for his third EuroBasket with the help of some young British talent, including Devon van Oostrum and Myles Hesson.

We need to have a national team to inspire the kids to reach their potential so these qualifiers are vital for us because we need to prove that we’re a squad full of young talent that is worth investing in

Kieron Achara

But the Sidigas Avellino forward fears that without any financial support, the next generation of young stars will not be able to realise their potential and has called on his team-mates to qualify for next summer’s tournament and prove that they are a team worth investing in.

“It was a shock for me and for most of the basketball community when our funding was cut to zero. I thought that we were going to get a cut of sorts, but to actually drop to zero was heartbreaking,” said Achara, who was part of the Team GB squad that competed at London 2012.

“I see so many kids in the gym, working on their game, sending me messages to ask what they can do to improve, I’ve got parents contacting me on a daily basis asking for help, so it’s great for me to see so many young people interested in the sport.

“But now I’m thinking, ‘I’ve played for GB and these kids want to play for GB, but if there’s no GB programme what do they have to aim for?’

“We need to have a national team to inspire the kids to reach their potential so these qualifiers are vital for us because we need to prove that we’re a squad full of young talent that is worth investing in.”

Achara and co begin their qualification campaign with a trip to Reykjavik in Iceland on 10 August before welcoming Bosnia to the Copper Box Arena on the Olympic Park in London on 13 August.

They then host Iceland at the Copper Box on 20 August before rounding off the four match series with a trip to Sarajevo in Bosnia on 24 August.

To prepare for the qualifiers, GB played international friendlies against Latvia and Belgium and despite suffering losses to both sides, 6ft 10in Achara insists that there were plenty of positives to take out of the fixtures.

“Playing against experienced teams like Latvia and Belgium, I didn’t really know what to expect from a young group of guys – but they responded really well,” he added.

“It’s very promising to see the youth coming through and stepping up at this level so I’m happy with the progress we’re making. Now we just have to learn to win games as a squad but the belief in camp is that we are going to do a really good job this year.

“Iceland are a pass and shoot team, similar to Latvia, so we kind of know what to expect from them. We have to go there and make sure we are on top of our game and grind out the win. Bosnia are different, they have a lot of experience and some great young talent as well as a great coach.

“We have to take care of business at home and steal those wins on the road and I really believe that if we can stick to our game plan then we can definitely qualify for EuroBasket – it’s critical that we do. And to the fans, please come down and support us at the Copper Box – we need you.”

Great Britain take on Iceland and Bosnia in the qualifiers for EuroBasket 2015 later this month. You can book tickets for GB’s home games at the Copper Box at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Wednesday 13th August and Wednesday 20th August. Tickets are available via www.theticketfactory.com or 0844 338 8000.

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