Commonwealth GamesSport

Olympics target next after gold and silver for South London’s basketball maestros

By Max Hall

Palace hoops ace Orlan Jackman said Team GB will be aiming for the Olympics in Paris after securing gold in the Commonwealth Games in dramatic fashion.

With the final against Australia having gone into overtime at Birmingham’s Smithfield Market on Tuesday night, England were trailing 16-15 until local lad Myles Hesson intervened.

The first team to score two points wins in added time and Hesson took aim from outside the D on the half court to sink a two-point shot and secure gold as the compere screamed: “And that’s the stuff that dreams are made of!”

Jackman, a resident of SE19, was still trying to take it all in when the South London Press caught up with him and asked him how it felt to have won gold.

“If you give me a couple of hours, I’ll be able to tell you properly but at the moment I’m just soaking it up, enjoying the moment. It’s just surreal, it hasn’t even settled in yet,” he said.

The team veteran once again made crucial contributions when it mattered, doubling England’s early lead, levelling at 5-5 and maintaining rock steady concentration to net two free shots in a windy open-air arena to transform a 6-5 deficit into a 7-6 advantage.

‘OJ’ then equalised at 10-10 and provided a killer pass to Jamell Anderson for 13-13 with just 44.3 seconds on the clock.

That set the stage for local hero Hesson to do the rest.

“I told you in the beginning,” said Jackman, “it was about five steps. Step one was winning the first game, step five we end up with a gold medal around our neck.

“One thing about basketball players, if you believe, that’s half the job done. If you believe, you’ll make it work.”

On the importance of a victory that lifted the roof off at Smithfield, the court ace said: “This is the international stage, big media across the world – and South London, most importantly – it shows the world that we can play, we’re a nation to be reckoned with. Let’s carry this on.

“The Olympics is coming to Paris. Put stuff in the air, let’s make it materialise. I want GB to be in the Olympic three on three. That’s what I want.”

The silver medal-winning women (left to right): Chantelle Handy, Cheridene Green, Shanice Beckford-Norton, Hannah Jump

There was an equally dramatic finish in the women’s gold medal match but this time the result went against the hosts.

Lambeth’s Cheridene Green again bestrode the court, at times backing into her marker like an old-fashioned football centre forward.

Green appeared to have secured overtime for England by netting for 13-13 with just 2.6 seconds on the clock but then Sarah Te-Biasu – the smallest player on the court and star of the Maple Leafs team – dramatically drove across the park to sink a winner as the buzzer sounded.

“I’m definitely proud of us, we did the best we could and we’re still going home with something which is definitely something we should be happy about,” said Green.

“Yes, we’re upset that we lost, we’d obviously gone all the way to fight for gold but at least we’re going home with something.

“We all battled, we all pushed through and did the best we could. No regrets at all, we put it all out there. The main thing about us is that we were focused, we did everything we could, whatever the result. We put everything out there.

“There’s nothing we can be upset about or regretful about. We’re very competitive. In our blood we’re winners.”

The Commonwealth Games silver medal winner said: “It hasn’t kicked in yet but it definitely will after a little while.

“You can hear the fans now, you can hear people cheering us on. It’s definitely nice to hear that and feel that.

“For me, coming from South London, you know, there’s a lot of basketball courts. If people have seen me play on TV, they’re probably thinking ‘wow! I want to be able to achieve that’ and I don’t want anyone, ever to feel they can’t achieve.

“Whatever you do, if you put all your effort in, you can achieve anything. You just fight for what you can.”

Pictured top: Myles Hesson, Orlan Jackman, Kayne Henry and Jamell Anderson (Pictures: Basketball England)

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