GB basketball players release statement attacking sport's leaders

Members of GB's basketball team read a statement at a post-match press conference
Members of GB's basketball team read a statement at a news conference following their exit from World Cup qualifying

Great Britain's basketball team released a statement attacking some of the sport's leaders minutes after their World Cup qualifying defeat by Israel.

They criticised Basketball England, Wales and Scotland over their reported plans to cut funding.

The team said they are "disappointed and frustrated" news of the report leaked during the qualifiers.

"The leaders of the home countries are setting our national team shirts on fire, like rubbish," the team said.

"Now the games are over, we will not be silent again."

Forward Dan Clark read a pre-prepared statement, surrounded by his team-mates, after Monday's 67-59 loss ended their hopes of reaching next year's tournament.

The three home nations have reportedly proposed plans that would see volunteers run the national teams on a "shoestring budget", causing a dispute with British Basketball.

The players accused the home nations of cutting funding to "save money while large salaries are paid to managers".

"To read that we can deliver the national teams on 50% of the already meagre budget betrays a complete lack of understanding of elite sport," they said.

"Some of the leaders of our game have shown no understanding of what we are trying to achieve and no respect for our commitment in playing for our country."

UK Sport, which oversees funding for elite competitors, does not fund basketball because of a lack of medal-winning potential, although grassroots funding body Sport England is providing £4.73m over four years from 2017 to 2021.

British Basketball said in February it needed to find £1m urgently to fund its eight teams - made up of men's, women's and age-group sides - or it would consider scrapping the programme.

That would have led to a suspension by the International Basketball Federation - the sport's world governing body - for failing to fulfil their fixtures.

In May, sports minister Tracey Crouch approved a one-off funding package worth £500,000.

It has now been reported British Basketball is on the verge of collapse due to infighting with the home countries.

"Instead of working together to resolve the issues, you are dumping on those who have given so much for their sport and their country," they added.

Scotland and Great Britain captain Kieron Achara added: "Negative press is not a great thing for the team or for the country. But we felt during this camp how deflating it can be when you're trying to find a way to compete and there's these battles happening away on the fringes.

"Because of that negativity, we feel that action needs to be taken at this time."

British Basketball refused to comment when approached by BBC Sport.

The Home Country Associations said they "remain committed to working towards a structure and model for British Basketball that keeps GB teams on the floor for the long term and allows all parts of our sport to thrive and develop".

"We acknowledge that there is some distance between the proposals being put forward by British Basketball and this position. However, we do not believe that playing out aspects of these ongoing discussions in a public forum is beneficial for the sport or helpful to our members," they added in a statement.

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