Reports awry as basketball keeps facts out of the hoop

British Basketball demonstrated one thing for sports journalists last month – always check the facts – after the PR agency that handles the national team’s marketing issued a press release after one match which had the final score wrong and had players taking part who did not actually play.

Yet at least two national press agencies carried the unadorned, and uncorrected, press release as news.

Fast Track, who handle the PR for Great Britain’s basketball side along with UK Athletics and a range of other sporting events, issued the press release following GB’s defeat to Macedonia in Turkey last week.

The “news story”, with the usual, dutiful credit for the sponsors given priority over any real information, went out thus:

“The Standard Life GB men were defeated by Macedonia as they lost 78-57 in Ankara, Turkey.

“Kieron Achara and Flinder Boyd both returned to the roster but Joel Freeland was counted out due to an intestinal illness.”

Except that the score was 78-67. And Kieron Achara did not play.

The story on the British Basketball website has since had the scoreline corrected, though Achara’s presence in the match report remains unaltered.

The report went on to claim that it was Britain’s final warm-up game ahead of the European Championship finals. Except it wasn’t: the team was playing again the following day.

Fast Track say that the errors were due to “an unfortunate miscommunication between the team and London”, where the report was compiled, and that the agency would normally provide someone on site for press liaison – as there will be for the duration of the European championships in Poland this month – but that this had not been possible on this occasion.

As a result of the press release on the Macedonia game being issued on the wires, specialist basketball correspondents received calls from their sports desks querying the “errors” in their copy. Fast Track claims that the scoreline was corrected within 10 minutes of going out.

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