Commonwealth silver medallist Georgia Jones believes the NBA’s latest visit to London will help inspire the national team to keep winning medals.
The point-guard, from Manchester, was an integral part of the England team which came home with a medal from the Gold Coast and qualified for EuroBasket 2019, the premier continental competition, with the Great Britain team.
With the NBA London Game taking place this Thursday, 20,000 fans will pack the O2 Arena to see some of basketball’s stars including Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal and the New York Knicks’ Kevin Knox.
Jones said: “It’s good to have such a big event for basketball being held here. People can see the sport done right and the teams have such a big following.
“The NBA are a great organisation who know exactly what they are doing. It’s good for people here to see how entertaining the sport is and what a big show it is when it’s put on correctly.
“Hopefully we can get there ourselves in the future. We’ve obviously achieved in the last few years getting silver at the Commonwealth games and qualifying for EuroBasket with Great Britain.
“We are doing as much as we can to show people that basketball in this country is at that level and is getting better.
“Hopefully it helps if we can take care of business on court and we can follow through to inspire people to get involved with the sport.”
As part of the NBA London game, Alcester Grammar and Queensbridge School played a match at The Regal, in Lambeth, with each school representing one of the teams taking part in the headline game.
Before tip-off they were coached by NBA champions Caron Butler, Bob Dandridge and Phil Chenier as well as four-time NBA All-Star Latrell Sprewell, with the players signing autographs for youngsters who attended.
The game was staged as part of the activities relating to the NBA London Game 2019 between the Washington Wizards and New York Knicks, providing another fantastic opportunity for Jr. NBA participants to enjoy incredible experiences through basketball.
Jr. NBA Basketball England Leagues are designed to leverage the excitement of the NBA to inspire participation, and the programme aims to promote the shared NBA and Basketball England values of teamwork, leadership, fitness and healthy living through league games, Jr. NBA youth clinics, and league Finals events.
In 2018, Basketball England expanded their Jr. NBA offering significantly, moving from five to 13 leagues across the country to help bring the programme to more than 4,500 children aged 11 and 12.
And Jones expects international-level players to come out of the scheme soon.
She said: “We’re very fortunate to have it going in schools and an established brand like the NBA is supporting us catching young people early.
“To see these superstars, they earn so much money and it shows the opportunities basketball can give to people.
“It’s the equivalent of having premier league football players. Everyone sees the NBA as the best in the world so to have stars here with us is really inspiring for the kids.
“We’re fortunate that people do just pick up a ball and go down to a park to play basketball.
“The participation figures are obviously amazing but we need to get the message to people they can play, get an education and go travel the world and meet new people.
“If we get that message across to people and they take up the sport early enough then the game can give you as much as you put in.”
To find out more about Basketball England the Jr. NBA programme, please go to www.Basketballengland.co.uk/Jrnba