Ashley Hamilton has swapped his reputation as a ‘hired gun’ for full-time gunslinger at the London City Royals, writes Geoff Sweet.
The 30-year-old dynamic forward, who has spent all of his post-college career in mainland Europe, finally makes his British Basketball League debut against the Glasgow Rocks at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre on Sunday (4pm).
Hamilton, raised in Bromley, badly damaged a ligament in his wrist in the final throws of helping Spanish side Manresa achieve promotion to the Spanish Liga ACB last season.
Now the 6ft 8ins Sierra Leone-born star is ready to unleash his dazzling skills on British basketball fans having been forced to sit out the Royals’ opening seven league matches.
Hamilton was the newly-formed Royals’ star signing in the summer when he penned a three-year deal. He’s been a ‘hired gun’ on shorter term contracts in Greece, Spain, Italy, Lebanon, Spain and the Ukraine, but now he is ready to shoot from the hip for the Royals.
“I am thrilled and excited to be making my BBL debut and am delighted to commit the next three years to the Royals,” he said. “The fact is I never previously had the right opportunity to play in England given various organisational and financial standpoints.
“We know have the strength in depth in our squad to make the play-offs.
“I’ve been eager to get started but understand the process. This extra time has given me the opportunity to really get my whole body well-conditioned and strong and I’m now feeling better than ever.
It’s been tough watching the team go under-manned in some games, taking hits that we should be better able to handle when at full strength.”
The Royals take on Glasgow looking for a fifth win. Forward Will Neighbour is expected to miss the game having hurt his ankle in the 98-81 win over the Newcastle Giants, but leading scorer Matt Bryan-Amaning is expected to be over a similar injury.
Nhamo Shire, director of basketball operations. said: “It’s no secret that Ash was the first name on our list when we sat down in the summer to discuss putting together a British-led team that would both excite and challenge in the BBL.
He’s an elite level athlete with strength, mobility, agility and high-level skills packaged into a legitimate 6ft 8ins frame – a celebration of the best of British.
“To have him locked in for the next three years has given us the foundation we needed to build around – so naturally we were in no rush to get him back early.
“We had to be sure he was 110 per cent ready to go. Now he is, we’re all excited for what is to come.”
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