- National Teams
FIBA made the long-awaited decision everyone was hoping for today, voting a resounding yes to give both the Great Britain men’s and women’s teams automatic qualification for the London 2012 Olympics.
The 22-board member decision, which took place in Lyon, France, at the FIBA Central Board meeting, was won by 17 votes to 3, meaning that next summer the British public will get to see the likes of Luol Deng, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Joel Freeland and Ben Gordon compete in the GB kit on their home turf at their own Olympics.
There is however, one condition, they must decide by June 30th 2012 whether the three federations (England Basketball, Basketball Scotland, Basketball Wales) want to carry on as Great Britain or be represented as individual nations for competitions.
Addressing the room, which consisted of representatives from Great Britain, FIBA Secretary-General Patrick Baumann announced:
“I can inform you that proposal was accepted by 17 votes against 3, so I congratulate you, you will be playing at the Olympic games and we will be very happy to have you there. It’s a very positive decision for British Basketball Federation and British baskeball and we look forward to seeing competitive teams, the passionate fans and the long journey together with the British basketball federations to make basketball the sport in the UK.”
GB forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu who was in attendance, was hyped:
“This is probably one of the happiest days in my career so far now that it’s official we’re going to the Olympics and I’m gonna be an Olympian-I’m just lost for words. Playing in the Olympics is a big deal but playing in the Olympics in your home town in front of your friends and family and to represent your country at the same time, it’s something I will never forget. I’m never gonna forget March 13th 2011 for the rest of my life. I’m so excited I wanna go to the gym right now and start gettin’ ready!”
Whilst GB guard Joannah Leedham is quietly confident of the senior womens chances:
“Obviously we’re an underdog team, but we have such a great coaching staff. (Head Coach) Tom Maher has gone to the Olympics with various teams and has been top 8, no less, every single time. He has high expectations and is the kind of coach that can pull the best out of everyone. I’m confident that we can go and do the same as he has done with other countries, so it’s an exciting time for us.”
It will be the first time there has been a Great Britain team at the Olympics since 1948, and in front of a home crowd, fielding our strongest team ever, who knows what could happen? Bring it on!
What do you think? Hyped? Will you be there cheering them on? How monumental do you think this is to the future of British basketball? Drop a comment and let us know!