Basketball star aims to inspire the future after dazzling start to NBA career

London-born OG Anunoby is turning heads in the NBA this year as a rookie for the Toronto Raptors.

The Indiana University product impressed in his first start against the Houston Rockets, earning 16 points and helping towards a 129-113 win.

As the 23rd draft pick, Anunoby is only the tenth British-born player to play in the NBA and now joins Luol Deng of the LA Lakers in Basketball’s leading franchise.

“[I want] to inspire kids in Great Britain to want to play basketball and show that they can make it to the NBA from Britain” said 20-year-old Anunoby.

Sport England gave Basketball England funding of £4.73m earlier this year, and £1m to the national team at British Basketball.

However, UK Sport has once again denied British Basketball any funding in the lead up to Tokyo 2020 due to the lack of qualification at Rio, raising many questions about the future of the sport on British soil.

Basketball is the second most played team sport in the UK behind football, 217,900 people aged 14 and over play the sport at least once a week, with half of those coming from black and minority communities.

UK Sport has been accused of ignoring the popularity of the sport at elite level.

Stars like OG Anunoby are the role models for young British players and more funding into British Basketball can get them representing GB on the world stage.

“Playing for Great Britain is something I’d consider, I haven’t decided yet but it’s definitely something I would consider,” said Anunoby.

British Basketball is at a low ebb despite the NBA wanted to broaden its horizons over the Atlantic.

There is a huge opportunity to invest in an extremely popular sport in the UK with thousands of participants.

Rowing receives £32,111,157 from UK Sport, but sees much lower participation levels, however at elite level there are medal winners.

More investment needs to be put in British Basketball so more young players want to take up the sport.

Having UK Sport only consulting to Sport England with minimal funding is not enough to increase elite performance in the sport.

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