Josh Ward-Hibbert says England on path to becoming 'great basketball nation' after Commonwealth Games heroics | The Sun

JOSH WARD-HIBBERT believes there is an "electricity" now to English basketball after the country's Commonwealth Games heroics.

The London Lions star, 28, believes the men's gold and the women's silver medals in the 3×3 event has helped the country become even closer to a "great basketball nation".

England historically won the Commonwealth Games' first gold in men's 3×3 basketball when Myles Hesson's overtime buzzer-beater sealed a 17-16 win over Australia.

But it was heartbreak at the buzzer for England's women as they took a silver medal after a 14-13 loss to Canada.

Ward-Hibbert said: "There’s electricity in British basketball right now. From top to bottom.

"From the level we have some of our seniors playing at, to the national team continuing to collect big scalps.

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"Our youngers coming through are stronger and stronger and now a gold and silver at the Commonwealth Games.

"This was another piece to an incredible journey British basketball is on.

"The men’s and women’s team both played and fought so hard. Everyone is super proud of them.

"And thanks to the players and the coaching staff all involved, they laid another steppingstone for British basketball to edge closer to becoming a great basketball nation."

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Ward-Hibbert was once destined for tennis stardom, hitting the headlines with a 133mph serve as a junior at WimbledonCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Ward-Hibbert switched to basketball at age 22 – and hasn't looked back

Ward-Hibbert was actually once destined for tennis stardom, making waves with a record 133mph serve as a junior at Wimbledon and winning an Australian Open Boys' doubles title.

It was the fastest serve ever recorded by a junior at Wimbledon, and he then partnered Liam Broady to the 2012 Australian Open Boys' doubles title a few months later.

But at age 22 he made the difficult decision to turn his back on tennis and switch to basketball.

Now he's a professional star and was recently called into the Great Britain 3×3 squad – but did not feature at the Commonwealth Games.

He said: "I found the decision super hard even though tennis took the front seat in a lot of my decisions I loved basketball.

"If someone asked me 'would I love to play at Centre Court at Wimbledon?' of course I would.

"But at the same time I'd love to play a (basketball) World Cup final. I just go down to the likes of Wimbledon now as a cheerleader to support my guys."

Ward-Hibbert's basketball journey kicked off at the Derby Trailblazers before he bagged a professional contract with the Leicester Riders.

He was involved in three BBL play-off wins during his four-years at Leicester.

Ahead of the 2020 season, he moved to the London Lions, helping them to the play-off final where their season ended with an heartbreaking defeat to the Newcastle Eagles.

He said: "I really want to play for Great Britain or England. Representing the country at that level would be a huge achievement. It's such an honour.

"I'm putting myself in the best position to do that. I know I've got the ability to be playing internationally.

"Playing in European competitions against some of the best teams has been big for me being able to contribute.

"Confidence wise that was a big step for me to say as a British player that I contributed, because a lot of teams have American imports.

"That's something I'll hold for a long time."

For more information and to keep up to date with London Lions this season visit the British Basketball League

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