No tattoo for Achara but plans for a lasting basketball legacy from Commonwealth Games

Falkirk Fury v Glasgow Rocks. Kieron Achara. Picture Michael Gillen.
Falkirk Fury v Glasgow Rocks. Kieron Achara. Picture Michael Gillen.

Kieron Achara won’t be getting a Commonwealth Games tattoo to match his Olympic ink – despite Scotland’s best ever basketball finish.

Achara bowed out of the Scottish international basketball scene at its peak last month but he fully intends to ensure the team’s Oz success is permanently remembered, even without going under the needle.

“My wife hates tattoos so I think it’s unlikely,” laughed Achara, whose Olympic appearance is marked by the five rings on his right shoulder. “I had some temporary ones but my daughter took them!” .

Instead, Achara is keen to build on the team’s success and push basketball forward in this country.

In his role with basketballScotland, the national governing body, he has a chance to do that – and more time now having retired from international duty to focus on family, the day job and life as a pro with Glasgow Rocks.

“The success of the CG2018 shows we can push for the sport, achieve high standards and take things forward.

“Funding is, of course, important but you have to create an infrastructure for the delivery.

“I certainly believe the pathway for development needs to be created and clear.”

Achara needs only to look close to home and at his team-mates in his final matches in the Gold Coast. Among them were four Falkirk-trained players, including himself, and all of them were starters in each of Scotland’s games Down Under.

“John Bunyan was always a forward thinker as a coach. He knew there was a level in Scotland but he was looking elsewhere to develop players better – not just for his club and the Fury, but for the players and the sport.

“That’s why I went abroad and played pro in Spain, why he was looking to high school in the US for Jonny (Bunyan) and why Ali Fraser and Fraser Malcolm moved to North America.

“That was necessary for their development. Our challenge is we need to find a way to keep them here but develop them at best we can. That’s the hardest part.

“The Rocks have a role to play in that too. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!”

Achara could just be that inspirational, and committed, figure.

An Olympic hero in London, he had missed the last Commonwealth inclusion of basketball - in 2006 – through injury.

He made it this time though, and was joined by mopre than a few familiar faces from his Falkirk, and his Rocks, squads.

Scotland only missed out on a bronze medal after defeat by New Zealand and Achara said: “It’s bittersweet. We had the belief we could medal and had that mindset.

“I started playing for Scotland at 16 and since I’m a bit older, in my 30s now, it’s time up for me. I can’t think of any better way than to go out after that Commonwealth Games appearance.

“I’m leaving a better level than when started.

“It’s the best competition I’ve been part of. The Olympics were special because they are the pinnacle of sport, but this was extar special. This was winning games and actually having success on the court and beginning to get a sense of expectation.

“We had top top players in the Olympics but in this one we played collectively as a team – no individuals stood out.

“The coach played a rotation for many of the guys so all had a part to play – though it was special having four Falkirk players start.

“You embraced having the Falkirk Four – JB (John Bunyan) will always be keen to highlight this – since we all knew where we had all come from and it was great to be a part of it together.”

The starters were all – bar Fury’s export Fraser Malcolm – back in action for Glasgow Rocks as they entered the play-offs this week.

Among them was, of course, Jonny Nunyan and Achara added: “It’s been amazing to watch him grow up.

“There’s a photo from a while ago of myself and Jonny that did the rounds on social media. He used to watch me and now he’s alongside me.

“It’s nuts to see where he has achieved and I’ve been fortunate to watch him grow up at the Rocks and now become a great point guard and important asset to the club and the country.

““We’ve all still got the confidence among us and I think that will help us as Rocks going into the play-offs.

“The first game back was one of the ugliest wins we’ve had – maybe a Commonwealth hangover – but a win nonelthess. It’s given us more motivation.

“We exceeded all expectation and now we need to put that forward and use it to enhance basketball here in Scotland and the UK.”