By Duncan Mackay

British_Basketball_Say_Yes_campaignMarch 12 - A decision not to form a single British Basketball association is threatening to undermine their chance of being allowed to compete at next year's Olympics in London, they have been warned.

England, Scotland and Wales came together to form the Great Britain national teams in 2006 with the express goal of playing in the Olympics, but they have remained as separate governing bodies.

FIBA granted British Basketball exceptional status to operate as an umbrella organisation, but that arragement expires next year at the Games, with the world governing body hoping they would instead merge.

The issue of Britain's participation at London 2012 will be top of the agenda when the 22 members of FIBA's ruling Executive Committee meet in Lyon tomorrow.

"We cannot move forward indefinitely with this hybrid model," FIBA secretary-general Patrick Baumann wrote in an article published in the Daily Telegraph.

Baumann, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee, wants Britain's participation at London 2012 to be the beginning of a new chapter for the sport in this country not the end of the book.

"This is why the British basketball family needs to produce a clear legacy plan, spelling out its vision for years to come, long after the memories of London have begun to fade," he wrote.

"Indeed, it would be a crying shame for a whole generation of youngsters to be enthused by the 2012 basketball tournament only to find they have few opportunities to play the game themselves after the Olympic torch has been passed on.

"The British basketball family has to figure out the best governance model to take the sport forward.

"Currently, there are three national member federations – England, Scotland and Wales - and the British Basketball Federation has an exceptional status as an umbrella organisation of all the three valid until 2012 only.

"If Britain wants to compete at international level as Team GB then it can only have one representative in the future."

Patrick_Baumann_at_2010_World_ChampionshipsA nationwide league must also be established as part of a condition of Britain's participation at London 2012, said Baumann.

"Any blueprint needs to coherently outline how basketball can grow and prosper from street level right the way through to the top tier of international competition," he wrote.

"It also has to address the necessity of developing a strong domestic league with a proper pyramid of sustainable clubs, full of home-grown talent, who can seamlessly step up to the national level when called on."

Britain's basketball team has not competed in the Olympics since the last occasion London staged the Games, in 1948.

They finished 20th after losing seven of their eight matches.

British Basketball has recently been running a nationwide "Say Yes" campaign to drum up support for their bid to play at London next year.

Supporters include Hugh Robertson, the Sport and Olympics Minister.

"This country is passionate about the sport and want the men and women's GB teams to compete at London 2012," he said.

"British basketball teams at the Games would help shine a spotlight on the sport and encourage a new generation to take it up."

Chris Spice, British Basketball's performance director, is confident Britain will get FIBA's backing.

"There's no precedent for a host nation not participating [in the Olympics]," he said.

"We know the potential in Europe if GB doesn't participate then another European team gets in and that is obviously something in our minds.

"But we're looking at the broader, bigger picture, and we've been working closely with our partners at FIBA Europe on that."

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