Whilst many of the BBL’s top talents have been able to enjoy some form of an off-season, for those selected to represent England and Scotland at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games there has been no respite at all, as preparations for the 3×3 competition have continued at a pace.
The BBL will be strongly represented in this prestigious competition – the 22nd Commonwealth Games – which features 3×3 Basketball for the first time ever, as Jamell Anderson, Gareth Murray, Jonny Bunyan, Fraser Malcolm and Kyle Jimenez were all selected for the final four -player rosters for their respective countries, with Danny Evans confirmed on the reserves list for England.
Whilst England and Scotland have been drawn apart in both the Men’s and Women’s competitions for the pool stages, if both are to match their ambitions and challenge for medals then there is a real chance they could face each other in the knockout stages of the competition.
We caught up with Anderson and Malcolm ahead of the Games getting underway in Birmingham on July 28th – with the 3×3 competition running from July 29th to August 2nd – to look ahead to what is set to be an epic competition.
“Competing for your country at any level is an incredible honour, but to do it on home turf in front of your fans and friends and family is even more exciting.” Anderson said.
“I’m very much looking forward to playing in front of them in person and hopefully bringing home a medal for them.
“We’re very much focused on ourselves rather than the other teams. We need to make sure we’re doing what is expected of us as players and we’ve done a lot of preparation so it is just about putting that into play really.
“My expectation is to win each game as we go along and I definitely think we’re capable of winning a medal. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t and it would feel amazing to achieve that, especially on home soil. It is amazing to have friends and family with us, especially people I’ve grown up with in Nottingham and so on, so we can’t wait to get out there and try and put on a show for them.”
One of four Glasgow Rocks named in the Scotland roster, Malcolm discussed his side’s prospects for the Games, with the whole roster having Commonwealth experience having competed in the 5v5 competition in Gold Coast in 2018.
“We were delighted to be able to qualify and be a part of the Commonwealth Games, but now we’re here it is down to business and we want to do everything we can to win. We’re not coming to make up the numbers, we know it’ll be a great experience, but we all want to win and that is what we’re aiming for.
“It is a cliché but we’re just going to have to take things one game at a time and see how it goes. We’ve had some preparation and we’re confident in our ability and our chemistry as a group, so we feel like we’ve got what it takes to do well, and we’re excited to get started in Birmingham.
“I think our chemistry is going to be a big plus for us. We saw in the qualifiers what we can do when we’re moving the ball quickly and knocking down our shots. It is a different game in many ways, and we’ve had to get used to those things like the physicality and so on, but I’ve improved a lot from being involved in 3×3 and grown as a player.”
One of the defining memories of Gold Coast for British Basketball fans will surely be England’s clash with Scotland in the Pools stage, where the Scots ran out comfortable victors on the day. While this time both sides will have to wait until the knockout stages if they are to face each other, Malcolm discussed how much he and his teammates would enjoy the challenge once more.
“It’d be a great experience to come up against England at some stage, for sure. We know a lot about them, we’ve seen their preparations and been able to watch them from afar so we’re aware of their qualities and what they bring to the table. We’d love the challenge of competing with them on home soil and we’ll see if our paths cross in the competition.”
The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games get underway with the Opening Ceremony on July 28th, with 10 days of sporting action following until August 8th. The 3×3 competition takes place at Smithfield, running from July 29th to August 2nd, and all of the action will be available to watch via BBC iPlayer.