British basketball team train at new Football Association centre ahead of Puerto Rico test
Wednesday, 07 August 2013
August 7 - Great Britain's men's basketball team have been preparing for their match against Puerto Rico by training at the National Football Centre at St George's Park in facilities which have been specially revamped for basketball.
Although a number of top football clubs, including European giants Monaco and Galatasaray, have taken advantage of the state-of-the-art facilities at the centre built by the English Football Association since its opening last year, this marks the first time they have been used for a sport other than football.
Britain's team have spent the last seven days using the advanced sports science and medical equipment as well as an indoor sports hall which has been specially revamped into a basketball court.
They are preparing for their first match on home soil since London 2012 at the re-opened Copper Box against 2011 Pan American champions Puerto Rico on Sunday (August 11).
Warwick Cann, British Basketball's National Team Director, is delighted with the new arrangement and told insidethegames that "the training, accommodation and support service facilities at St George's Park are world class."
"Add in a wonderful customer service ethos and everything is geared up to making it an ideal base for our summer training camps now and, ideally, into the future," he continued.
"The missing ingredient for basketball is a movable wooden floor so we want to work with our partners to see whether that barrier can be overcome.
"If it can, St George's Park would be an unrivalled training base for the future for all our national teams."
Britain finished ninth at London 2012, beating China 90-58 in their final match to register their first ever Olympic victory after losses to eventual minor medallists Spain and Russia, as well as Brazil and Australia.
They are now preparing for Eurobasket 2013 which will be held in Slovenia in September and they have already been drawn in Group A alongside, France, Germany, Ukriane, Belgium and Israel.
Britain will be without star players Joel Freeland and the injured Luol Deng for the entire 2013 campaign, while Pops Mensah-Bonsu was an additional late withdrawal, but the squad still includes six London 2012 survivors.
New head coach Joe Prunty remains confident and has taken the opportunity to promote GB Futures players Jamell Anderson and Ali Fraser into the training squad ahead of Sunday's clash.
"I'm excited to be working with both the veteran GB players and the new up and coming talent this summer," he said.
"The GB Futures camp was a great success and the high level of promising young talent there was excellent to see.
"I am very pleased to be able to offer these young players the chance to come to the senior camp and I am looking forward to seeing what they can do."
More than 6,000 fans are expected to descend on the Copper Box - next season's home for the London Lions Basketball team - and they will aim to recreate the partisan atmosphere that made it such a hit during the Olympics and Paralympics when the venue hosted handball, modern pentathlon fencing and goalball.
Despite not qualifying for London 2012, Puerto Rico have a strong international pedigree which included a sixth place finish at the 2004 Athens Games and are expected to pose a strong test for Prunty's side.
Prunty will be hoping that the special facilities they have made the most of at St George's Park will make all the difference between victory and defeat.
June 2013: NBA assistant gets nod for head coach as British basketball shake-up gets underway
March 2013: British Basketball to receive £7 million funding for Rio 2016
February 2013: British Basketball dream big after winning UK Sport funding appeal
January 2013: London 2012 bid star Amber Charles calls for UK Sport to restore funding for British Basketball
January 2013: NBA superstar Deng hits out at British Basketball cuts in letter to Prime Minister