By Tom Degun

PopsJanuary 10 - UK Sport's Board have been invited to attend the British Basketball League (BBL) Cup Final in Birmingham on Sunday (January 13) in a bid to convince the high performance agency to reverse their decision to cut 100 per cent of the sport's funding for Rio 2016.

British Basketball was one of the big losers in UK Sport's Rio 2016 funding announcement last month as they saw their four-year funding of £8.6 million ($13.6 million/€10.6 million) in the lead-up London 2012 fall to zero funding for the next four years.

The move came after the Britain's men's basketball team, headed by the NBA's Chicago Bulls star Luol Deng, finished ninth at London 2012 with the women's team in 11th, although both drew sold out crowds for every match at the Olympics.

The BBL Cup Final at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham will see the Leicester Riders take on the Newcastle Eagles and the invite to UK Sport from British Basketball comes after Conservative MP Oliver Colvile asked Cultural Secretary Maria Miller to request the agency "reconsider its decision to withdraw elite funding for basketball".

The request to Miller has been backed by British Basketball.

LuolDengBritain’s Chicago Bulls star Luol Deng proved one of the major attractions in the London 2012 Olympic basketball competition

"We are planning to appeal the decision but we also want to demonstrate the passion of basketball fans as well as the high standard of play and quality of players to members of the UK Sport board first-hand," said a British Basketball spokesperson.

"We believe we have a very strong case for a reconsideration of our funding."

Sharon Hodgson MP, the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Basketball, has become the latest high-profile figure to attack the cut.

"Removing funding will put all the excellent work that has gone on throughout the sport in recent years in extreme jeopardy," said Hodgson.

"Supporting basketball at the elite level wouldn't just give the national teams a chance of building on the remarkable improvement in performance that we saw at the London Games, it would also enable the sport and its stars to carry on inspiring children and young people to get involved at the grassroots level.

"I hope that the Government will reconsider this decision, and in doing so I hope they will look at the impact it will have on the success of the sport at grassroots level - both as a source of enjoyment and physical exercise for young people, but also the social function that it can serve in deprived areas."

A petition has also been set up urging the Government to persuade UK Sport to reconsider.

It asks: "What happened to Olympic legacy?

"There is no sport in the UK that has bigger potential for growth and improvement than basketball.

"It is the number two sport in the world for a reason, and the UK needs a profile national team programme to succeed.

"Rome wasn't built in a day.

"Some sports have been given, two or three cycles of funding before they achieved a medal, whilst others who underperformed at London 2012 only saw reductions in funding, not a complete end to it.

"We call on the Government to get UK Sport to reconsider their cut to British Basketball's funding and make basketball a funded sport again."

The petition can be viewed by clicking here.

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