Olympic Basketball: How Great Britain Hoops Will Respond Following 2012 Games

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Olympic Basketball: How Great Britain Hoops Will Respond Following 2012 Games
Stu Forster/Getty Images

We are six days away from the start of basketball in the 30th Olympiad, and there is much discussion concerning the 12 squads that will partake in the event.

In the field, there is much speculation over which nations could upset the United States and which star could shine the brightest.

But one feature of the basketball portion of these games that most observers can agree upon is that the British squad will struggle. Though known for a sports history that is rivaled by very few, basketball has never become a major sport in Great Britain.

The British have always been able to exploit their sports (alas cricket, football/soccer and rugby), but importing sports has not worked out well. Even though the NBA has become one of the top international sports leagues, it has never been able to gain much traction in Britain.

This has included exhibition games and the first regular-season NBA games to take place outside of North America, happening just last year.

Though basketball has tried to infiltrate into Britain's borders, it has not seen much progress occur. There is currently just one player on the British squad, Luol Deng, who is playing in the NBA. In the EuroBasket tournament, the British have only won twice in their history. They also have just one win in the Olympics, which came in 1948.

But there still should be reason to believe that British basketball will be on the rise. They have qualified for their past two EuroBasket tournaments and have a talented squad, though it is less talented than the Americans or Spanish.

When the British take to the floor on July 29, they will find themselves in a sticky situation. Though they will have support from the home crowd, the British will have the odds stacked against them to advance.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Pau Gasol and Spain will face Great Britain on August 2.

In their group, Britain has Australia, Brazil, China, Russia and Spain. All five of these nations are among the top 15 nations in the world, according to FIBA's world rankings. In that same ranking, Great Britain finds itself in 43rd place, with nations like Qatar and Cameroon ranking above the Brits.

Considering the lack of strength that British hoops has to offer, focusing on the future must be a priority.

After these Olympics, Wales said that it will not remain a part of Team Great Britain in basketball. But the Scottish and English federations announced that they will remain together in hopes to qualify for the 2016 Olympics.

Another encouraging sign that Britain should consider is the impact that Olympic basketball has on the nations that have hosted the competition during the past 20 years. In these Olympics, five of the last six nations that have hosted the Summer Olympics will be among the participants in men's basketball. The only recent host that won't be in these Olympics is Greece, which is ranked fourth overall in FIBA's rankings.

Each of these nations now can boast major international stars, something that Britain could soon export in basketball.

Considering that the English and Scottish remain united in their quest to form a Great Britain basketball team, indicates that the future is bright for the lowest ranked side in these Olympics. But if both sides fail to remain united, don't expect for another Olympic basketball team to emerge from Britain anytime soon.

 

Follow me on Twitter @Andrew_Jordan

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