Basketball: League presses for more funding

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The Independent Online

The British Basketball League's decision to cut the number of non-national players per team from four to three for the 2006-07 season, will be seen as applying pressure on sports agencies to continue funding élite players to stay with domestic clubs.

The BBL have also committed to reducing non-nationals to two per team in the 2007-08 season, further cutting back on the slots for imports and freeing places for Britons.

But a comment from the BBL chairman, Paul Blake, makes it clear that the clubs will still need the level of funding which made it possible to assemble the England team currently in Melbourne for the Commonwealth Games. Blake said: "Two-thirds of BBL players are British but we are committed, with the support of England Basketball, Great Britain Basketball and central Government sports agencies to continue to drive this percentage higher to aid the national team."

Sport England "topped up" the salaries of players such as Andrew Sullivan (Newcastle Eagles) and Julius Joseph (Scottish Rocks) to the level they would have earned by staying with Continental clubs, to make them available for Commonwealth Games selection.

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