Former Duquesne forward is London-bound
Former Duquesne forward Kieron Achara said he remembers watching the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics on television and seeing the best athletes in the world parade around Beijing National Stadium.
At the 2012 Games in London later this month, Achara will have a slightly different vantage point for the opening ceremony. He'll be marching in it.
Achara, a Scotland native, will represent his country at the Games. He survived the final round of cuts and was selected Thursday to Great Britain's 2012 Olympic basketball team.
"Seriously, it was just overwhelming," Achara said of his reaction when his coaches told him he made the final cut.
"It's something I've been working five or six years for. To have my prayers answered, I was just overwhelmed."
Achara's Duquesne career ended in 2008. In his four seasons, he averaged 10.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Since graduating, he has played professionally in Spain and Italy.
The British team will be coached by Houston Rockets assistant Chris Finch, and will be led by Chicago Bulls star Luol Deng.
Achara (6 feet 10, 240 pounds) said he sees his role as an energy player coming off the bench.
"I'm the kind of guy that comes off the bench, brings some energy, keeps everyone motivated, do the little things," he said.
"We've got a lot of talent at the highest level, like Luol Deng, Pops Mensah-Bonsu. All they need is for the other players to come in, run an offense, do all the little things correctly, hopefully grab a couple of offensive rebounds, play solid defense and hit the open shot when you have an opportunity."
Achara will be joined on the team by 6-foot-4 guard Kyle Johnson, who played for current Duquesne coach Jim Ferry at Long Island University.
This year marks the first time Great Britain has fielded a basketball team since 1948, the previous time London played host to the Olympics.
"[Basketball is] definitely on the up," Achara said. "I'm just excited to be able to showcase it at home for people to see and hopefully create more of a buzz and get more people interested in the game."
Great Britain and the United States are in separate groups, so they will not meet unless both teams qualify for the knockout stage of the tournament. The two squads will play an exhibition game July 19 in Manchester, England, a date Achara already has circled on his calendar.
"I'm sure it's going to be a great opportunity, a life-changing experience," he said.
Achara also said that he was mentally preparing himself for what it would be like when he walks around London's Olympic Stadium as a member of team Great Britain at the opening ceremony.
"It's one of those experiences you'll never forget," he said.
"I'm going to have my video camera there to film the whole experience."
As much as he remembers watching the event on TV four years ago, it's a safe bet that this year's will be just a bit more memorable.
First Published July 6, 2012 12:00 am