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First shot at 2012

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PARALYMPIC WORLD CUP
Venue: Manchester Dates: 20-25 May Coverage: Live on BBC Two, 1500-1715 BST, Monday 25 May; Daily reports on the BBC Sport website

By Ade Adepitan
BBC commentator and ex-GB wheelchair basketball international

It's not hard to see that, just like in US politics, a change has come in wheelchair basketball.

I'm not saying the unseating of the Canadian dynasty at the top of the basketball world order carries the same kind of gravitas as the USA having its first black president. But it's pretty close!

GB wheelchair basketball player Pete Finbow
Pete Finbow will be one of GB's most experienced players in Manchester

With all that in mind, I am really looking forward to this week's Paralympic World Cup basketball competition in Manchester.

With 2012 around the corner, every tournament is critical for the GB men's and women's teams, so I'm not surprised that coaches Murray Treseder and Garry Peel have decided to continue their Arsene Wenger-like policies of blooding new talent with every opportunity.

Coach Treseder has changed half of the team that won bronze in Beijing; some of these changes were by choice, but others were forced upon him.

Because of their Spanish club commitments, veterans Terry Bywater and Jon Pollock both struggled to make all of GB's training camps in the UK and were ruled ineligible for selection by Treseder.

It is proof that even in Paralympic sport, the club v country row still rears its ugly head from time to time.

When coach Treseder came into the job he saw that one of the weaknesses was that not enough new players were coming through

Then there was the unfortunate case of team captain Ademola Orogbemi, who was jailed for benefit fraud.

And finally, you can add to this top scorer Simon Munn's late withdrawal from the team for personal reasons.

GB face Australia, Germany and the USA in Manchester and with the other three teams also in a transitional phase, the biggest challenge for the team will be how the new squad members deal with the responsibilities of being a GB player.

In the absence of the experienced players, there will be no place to hide but I hope it will be the making of some of these new players.

606: DEBATE

When coach Treseder came into the job two years ago, he saw that one of the weaknesses of the GB set-up was that not enough new players were coming through into the team.

He has tried to change things since then and we are starting to see his style of leadership and at this tournament it will be his team, rather than a team which he inherited.

All of the upheaval has opened the door for some exciting new players. Gaz Choudhry, a player who I've known since he was 10, has always been hungry for success at international level.

This year has been a breakthrough year for him with his strong play for his club in Sardinia earning him a place on the Italian all-star team.

If the GB women's team have a successful London 2012 they may look back at this year's Paralympic World Cup as the start point

Ian Sager, who has made huge progress over the last few years, is a direct replacement for former team captain Andy Blake and his size makes him an asset to GB's style of play.

Matt Sealy, Simon Brown, Matt Rolleston and Lee Fawcett will all add freshness with their speed and scoring potential.

Simon Munn's replacement Lee 'The Tree' Manning probably has the biggest potential of all the new crop. At 6ft 7in and still growing, by the time 2012 comes around, he could quite literally be a giant in the game.

If the GB women's team have a successful London 2012 then coach Peel may look back at this year's Paralympic World Cup as the start point.

What has been missing from the women's game in the past has been a clear style of play or the ability to impose their style of play on an opponent.

GB wheelchair basketball player Helen Freeman
Helen Freeman is one of the brightest talents in the women's game

The problem stems from a dearth of high-point players (ie those with a lesser disability). As a low-point player myself (2.5), it's very difficult to admit that both the men's and women's games are dominated by high-point players.

We can all talk romantically about the great Mark Cheaney, who was a stalwart of the Sheffield Steelers and GB teams of the 80s and 90s, and also the International Paralympic Committee president Sir Phillip Craven.

Both were 1 and 1.5 pointers of yesteryear who had a massive impact on the way the game evolved but nowadays, without your 4 and 4.5 point players, it is very hard to compete.

So when I saw no less than five high-point players on this year's women's team list I seriously thought about playing a celebratory tune on the didgeridoo that I bought in Australia.

Then I remembered the only tune I was capable of creating from that tricky instrument would sound like someone with a case of extreme flatulence, and that is no way for anybody to celebrate.

In Helen Freeman, Judith Hamer and Madeline Thompson you have three young players who have the ability to help GB move up towards the second tier of women's basketball alongside the likes of China, the Netherlands and Canada.

Using the leadership and experience of Claire Strange, Caroline Mathews and Helen Turner, and with the dynamism of Caroline MacLean and Louise Sugden, you have the players who can create the style of play, especially on offence, which will be the blueprint for GB's future success in the women's game.

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see also
Ade's new challenge
07 May 09 |  Disability Sport
Weir set to compete in Manchester
29 Apr 09 |  Disability Sport
Seven stars in GB basketball side
07 Apr 09 |  Disability Sport
Disability claim sportsman jailed
15 Apr 09 |  Merseyside
Simmonds heads GB swimming team
17 Apr 09 |  Disability Sport
Tandem star to try out new pilot
14 Apr 09 |  Disability Sport
A-Z of Paralympic classification
28 Aug 08 |  Disability Sport
Disability Sport on the BBC
02 Nov 09 |  Disability Sport


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