Divac and Hawes: Domestic structure is key for the UK

Following a summer that saw Great Britain fall short of the Eurobasket second round, the possibility of a funding cut for the sport, as well as fatiguing whispers of a second domestic league in the shape of the British Basketball Association, basketball in Britain is in need of some stability.

FIBA Hall of Fame inductee, Vlade Divac, believes the only way to boost the National Team is to have a competitive domestic league, something, he hinted, that the British Basketball League wasn’t currently doing.

“It’s very important, if you want a long term [competitive national team], you have to have a league,” Divac told Talkbasket during his visit to Manchester on Monday.

“Otherwise you’ll have a generation where you have only two, three, four players playing in the States and from them you make the national team but when they retire then you don’t have a base.

“It’s very important to have a crop who are going to work with the youth and then produce talented players to play for the national team.”

Divac’s views on the Great Britain national team were shared by Philadelphia 76ers centre, Spencer Hawes, who feels that a strong youth set-up is the key to ensuring sustained success on the international stage.

“That’s where it starts – with your talent pool. That’s where you develop and even the homegrown guys that end up going to play in the Euro Cup or in the NBA, start somewhere,” explained 25-year-old Hawes who is in the UK as part of the NBA Global Games 2013.

“Over here, we’re professional, and I know a lot of guys who turn professional at the age of 14, so you have to have that base that really allows guys to develop and have a strong product at home.”

Hawes, who recently informed media that he was approached by GB star Luol Deng to play for Great Britain, believes that Britain needs to concentrate on players who will commit to the country instead of chasing ‘Plastic Passport’ players.

In the past, Great Britain has been linked with NBA names like Ben Gordon, Byron Mullens and Kelenna Azubuike. But with zero international appearances between the trio, Hawes feels it is in the best interests of GB to pick only players who are dedicated to their country.

“What I heard was a couple of guys said that they were going to do it and then it comes time to ‘fish or cut bait’ and they don’t show up,” said Hawes. “It takes the guys to have that domestic pride that they’ll give up a summer and that kind of rest to go play for something that’s bigger than themselves.

“Those guys who go fishing for passports are doing it for other reasons than the guys who are playing for the love of country and look at it as a way to serve their country through sports.”