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Great Britain captain Kieron Achara has announced his retirement from international basketball.
The 35 year old forward finishes his GB career with 101 official caps, having made his debut in 2008 and maturing into one of the pillar stones of the squad.
It’s been a blast. Thank you for the support throughout the years. I hope that I will be remembered as committed, hard working, and caring. The qualities I have tried to pride myself in. #iLovethisgame🏀 🇬🇧🏀 https://t.co/I1TPiVdVin
— Kieron Achara OLY (@KieronAchara) November 13, 2018
He featured in three EuroBasket Finals for GB, as well as skippering Scotland in their run to the semi-finals at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.
Yet with the British team set to start off on the road towards EuroBasket 2021 with a qualifier against Austria in Manchester on November 29, the moment has come to let the next generation claim the baton and chase successes of their own, Achara said.
Revealing the news via MVP’s Mark Woods, he said:
“We have a great group of young guys with a massive amount of talent coming through and my desire is that there is room for them to have the same kind of journey that I’ve had.
“And after almost 20 years of playing internationally, it’s probably the time for me to focus on other things in life and to start looking ahead to life after basketball when I eventually finish playing for Glasgow Rocks.
“It’s been an amazing experience, with playing at an Olympic Games and EuroBaskets for GB and tournaments for Scotland, with some amazing team-mates and coaches. Captaining my country has just been a huge honour, more than I could ever have imagined when I was a wee big kid playing for Falkirk Fury.”
He remains Scotland’s youngest-ever senior cap after facing Ireland in Dublin at the age of 16 and made what proved to be his final international appearance in a FIBA World Cup qualifier against Israel in Glasgow in July.
His GB career-high was an 18-point outing off the bench in EuroBasket 2013 in Slovenia, in an overtime win against Israel.
Achara’s best years with the GB team were across 2013 and 2014; averaging 10.6ppg at EuroBasket 2013 and 14.3ppg in the qualifiers in 2014. Notably, he also played a key role in GB’s only Olympic win at London 2012, scoring a team-high 16 points against China.
His final cap total makes him the most capped Scottish GB international ever, having played 55 test games and 46 competitive games.
Great Britain head coach Alberto Lorenzo said:
“It is one of those moments which nobody likes but you have no choice but to accept because you understand that it is part of the logical cycle of life.
“In the first place, for the player, because he is saying farewell to a very important part of him, something for which he has fought and sacrificed many things.
“Second, for the fans of basketball, because with his retirement we will all certainly we miss his presence in a GB jersey. On behalf of the entire GB basketball family – staff, administration and coaches, we will all be eternally grateful to Kieron.
“Two details explain his importance. On the one hand, his eternal commitment to what it means to wear this shirt has been an example for many. His conversations sharing his experience, his advice, his spirit in the locker room at the worst moments.
“Kieron knew what he meant by playing for this jersey, he always knew that the team and what he represented were bigger than himself. He was always extremely generous with this team.
“On the other hand, his smile, always, his positive spirit, very necessary in any team. In life, we will always find people who can help even in difficult moments – they difficult to replace. Kieron was and is that person where the team always came first.
“Therefore, he will always be worthy of the badge of captain and we will eternally be grateful to him.”
British Basketball’s director for performance Mark Clark paid tribute to Achara, saying:
“Kieron has been part of the Great Britain squad since the early years of preparing for London 2012. He was always a significant part of the success that GB had in qualifying for multiple EuroBasket Finals and he was an integral part of the team at our home Olympics.
“His leadership throughout his time with GB has been key, especially in his years as captain. As a role model he has been an inspiration to British players across the country but in particular in Scotland as GB captain and one of faces of the Rocks.
“He will leave a large hole in the national team programme but one, I believe, he can help to fill during the next stage of his career. As a graduate of the FIBA Time Out programme – and in his roles with the Rocks and Basketball Scotland – he is ideally placed to help the growth of elite basketball in this country.
“On a personal level I would like to recognise the support he has given me through the challenging times that GB have faced.”
Achara’s long-time team-mate and predecessor as GB captain, Drew Sullivan, added: “I’d like to congratulate Kieron on an amazing international career. In truth it came as a bit of a shock that he has decided to hang them up but when it’s time, it’s time.
“Kieron and I had many great games against each other. In truth it’s the games that we spent together representing GB that are my fondest. An extremely hard worker that got every bit of use out of the talents he was blessed with. I have no doubt that he will continue to be a success after basketball as he is a winner at heart.”
Achara, who has a development role with Basketball Scotland, plans to remain involved within the sport in addition to continuing to play for Glasgow Rocks.
He said: “I will still be engaged with British basketball and I’ll be cheering the guys on against Austria and elsewhere.”
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