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The 33 year old, 7’0″ center, said;
“My decision to retire is based on my wish to spend time with my family. I am going to be 34 in May and my recent contracts have meant I have been playing away from my family and the summer is my time to be with my three children. I think it’s time to let the younger guys have their turn with GB and I think I leave the team in the best situation it has ever been in with the best talent and also the most professional organisation the country has ever seen.”
“Playing for England and GB has given me so many good memories and has made me so proud. All international athletes will tell you there is no better feeling than pulling on your countries shirt and hearing your national anthem. I have played for my country for 13 years and loved every minute of it.”
Betts, from Leicestershire, debuted for England in 1996 against Slovakia and went on to collect 39 England caps, averaging 11 points per game. He then debuted with GB in 2007 at a EuroBasket test game versus Georgia. From there he racked up 23 caps from 12 test games and 11 competitive games, of which he started 18 and averaged a solid 10 points per game.
It was in 2003 where Betts had his most individual success on the international stage, averaging 16.7 points and 9.3 rebounds in the Eurobasket qualifying tournament, scoring in double figures in all nine games that he played. It was also where he had his career high of 31 points as England won 87-74 against the Czech Republic.
GB Standard Life Head Coach, Chris Finch, paid a poignant tribute to Betts:
“It’s players like Andy that should make up every counties National Teams. His sacrifice, commitment, leadership and of course performance has been inspirational for our programme. I cannot personally thank him enough for all he has given to Great Britain and England.
“We completely understand and respect his decision to step away from the international game and spend this time with his family. Life presents you with limited opportunities and time to share with your loved ones and given our line of work it becomes a continual balancing act. As such, it’s hard to feel anything but happiness for Andy and his family. We shall miss him greatly, but like all of the players that I have had the pleasure of working with since the inception of the GB programme in 2006, he will always remain part of our family too.”
Despite his absence from the team’s impending Eurobasket campaign, Betts remains confident of GB’s chances this summer;
“I honestly believe that if all the players selected show up this summer we have a realistic chance for a medal. Many people will think I’m crazy for saying that but last time at the EuroBasket finals we had the toughest possible group and we didn’t have Luol [Deng]. If Ben Gordon does play this summer it will make our starting 5 as strong as any team there.”
Although retiring from his international duties, he will continue to play for his current Ukrainian side, Budivelnyk KYIV.
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