20 Jun 16
After a gut-wrenching end to the Women's British Basketball League (WBBL) season, young gun Georgia Gayle is ready to throw all of her energies into making a splash at the GB Women's U20 camp.
Initially tasked with the objective of steering the Great Britain men's and women's basketball teams through to the London 2012 Olympic Games, British Basketball in its modern form has been in existence since December 2006.
Previously, with a FIBA relaxation of participating rules, senior Great Britain teams were only able to compete in Olympic Games years by preparing and competing in Pre-Olympic Qualifying tournaments in Europe and sometimes also in the Host Country.
However, with FIBA's decision to discontinue the promotion of Pre-Olympic Qualifying tournaments after 1992, no Great Britain teams were operated until a new FIBA 'relaxation' in early 2006 which enabled senior and under 20 teams to participate in the various European Championships for the first time. Under the 'old code', some 35 women played in the GB teams of (1976, 80, 84, 88) while some 115 men played in the GB teams (1948, 60, 64, 68, 72, 76, 80, 84, 88, 92).
The recent journey since 2006 produced achievements right from the beginning, when the senior men's team was promoted from its starting point in the then Division B, up to Division A. By utilising players with world-class pedigree such as Luol Deng and Pops Mensah-Bonsu, the team punched a ticket for a historic first trip to the Final Round of EuroBasket (European Championship) in 2009.
British Basketball also launched its first high performance strategy to create a single coherent pathway to develop talented youngsters in England, Scotland and Wales, and to grow the game in Britain.
In 2010, the senior men once again booked their spot at the EuroBasket Final Round and there was a double cause for celebration, as the senior women's team grabbed their own slice of history when they qualified for the Final Round of EuroBasket Women. A year later, the women stepped out in Poland and made a run to the second phase of the competition.
The big flag wavers in 2011 were the U20 Women who not only gained a gold medal in 2010 by winning Division B to qualify for the European Championship Division A, but managed to make a scintillating run to the Quarter Finals to finish eighth in Novi Sad, Serbia. This was a new high-water mark and the highest position for any home nation youth team.
By the landmark year of 2012, both men's and women's GB Basketball teams took to the floor in London, with the men competing at an Olympic Games for the first time since 1948 and the women making an Olympic debut.
While the women came close to recording a couple of victories, they were unable to quite get over the finishing line and sustained a number of narrow losses against the world's elite, but certainly won a lot of admirers for their efforts and fierce competitiveness.
The GB men signed off their London 2012 campaign with their first Olympic victory in over six decades when they took down China, a win which followed a series of competitive clashes against a number of basketball's global powerhouses, including a 79-78 loss to eventual silver medallists Spain, which had this fallen GB's way, would likely have delivered a top eight finish.
By 2013, both senior teams continued their rise to prominence as they each stepped out at EuroBasket and EuroBasket Women respectively.
The GB women once again reached the second round of the tournament and made yet more history in France by delivering wins against Serbia, Latvia and Croatia to finish a best ever ninth place at the prestigious and elite European event.
The GB men produced morale-boosting wins over Israel and Germany when on Slovenian soil and in doing so, further cemented their place among Europe's elite.
In addition, the GB U20 men's team showed the growing depth within British basketball by qualifying for Division A of the European Championship for the first time. A year later, the U20 team were to confirm their arrival on the big stage by stunning home juggernauts Greece with a stunning victory. This contributed to finishing eleventh at the event - a new all-time highest ranking.
Meanwhile 2014 brought continued joy for the senior women as they clinched a third successive place at the Final Round of EuroBasket Women to keep their dream of making the 2016 Rio Olympics alive. This has continued the significant progress of GB teams generally over the past six years.00