BASKETBALL ace Robert Archibald has told how winning a place at the 2012 Olympics is the perfect way to bring the curtain down on his glittering career.
The Paisley-born forward was thrilled to be named in the Great Britain basketball team for the Games in London.
Once the showpiece event is over, Archibald will retire from competitive basketball.
After 10 years in the sport, he will then take time out in his adopted city of Chicago to ponder his next career move.
However, for now, the towering 6ft 11ins tall sports star is concentrating on helping Team GB put on a good show at the Olympics.
Archibald, 32, said: “To have left Britain in 1997 and been all over the place and to be able to come back and have the final chapter of my career at home – and in such a high-level competition – feels perfect.
“It feels right to come full circle and I really think we can reach the quarter-finals.”
Archibald will be able to look back on a career that saw him become the only Scot so far to have played in the NBA, where he plied his trade with the Memphis Grizzlies, Toronto Raptors, Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns.
During his time in the USA, he shared the hardwood floor with multi-millionaire megastars such as Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neill.
Archibald also enjoyed a stint at the University of Illinois and his playing career eventually took him back over the Atlantic to play in Europe, where he graced courts for clubs such as Joventut Badalona, in Spain, and Azovmash Mariupol, in Ukraine.
Latterly, he was with Zaragoza but fell down the pecking order under coach Jose Luis Abos.
It gradually dawned on Archibald that his time as a professional basketball player was drawing to an end.
Archibald, who left Paisley as a two-year-old and moved to Kirkliston, near South Queensferry, said: “I’d been thinking about retiring during the year.
“At the start of the last season, I didn’t really have any kind of set plan. I knew this would be my 10th year as a pro and, if things were going well, I’d have probably played on to 35 or beyond.
“It was a difficult season all round, so I spent some time talking about it with my wife and other people.
“The closer I got to making that decision, the more I felt at peace with going that way.
“If it was just down to playing basketball, of course I could go on, but you get to the point in your 30s where you’re playing for teams where the goals aren’t set as high and where the contracts aren’t as good.
“When you weigh all that up, including what you have to sacrifice by being away from friends and family for 10 months each year, you get to a point where you have to look at the good against the bad.”
Archibald would love to bow out with a medal of some description in London.
And it’s hoped that Team GB can make a serious bid for a podium position after they enjoyed a remarkable upturn in fortunes in recent years.
As yet, the squad still don’t know who their first opponents will be on Sunday, July 29, as the qualifying campaign is not yet complete.
This will be only the second time in history that Team GB will be represented in basketball at the Olympics – and the first time since the Games were last hosted by London in 1948.
Since the formation of British Basketball in 2007, the strength of the squad has grown substantially and they are now prepared to compete with some of the world’s greatest basketball sides.
Joining Archibald in the 12-man squad is fellow Scot Kieron Achara.
While all 12 players will be making their Olympic Games debut, they bring plenty of top level competitive experience with them.
The most high-profile member of the selected athletes is probably Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng, who became the first ever British athlete to compete in the NBA’s All-Star match in February.
Also included is Pops Mensah-Bonsu, who recently joined Turkish giants Besiktas, and several other players who ply their trade in some of the strongest leagues in Europe, so there is every reason to be optimistic that Team GB can pick up their first ever Olympic medal on home soil.
The British team qualified for EuroBasket for the first time ever in 2009 and, at the 2011 event, they secured their first wins at the tournament by defeating Poland and Portugal.
They also performed admirably at the Test Event last year, which was hosted at the Basketball Arena in the Olympic Park.
Team GB beat China – ranked 10th in the world – and, despite losing to Croatia, fourth-ranked Serbia and ninth-ranked Australia, the narrow margin of the scorelines suggested that the British men’s team has the potential to cause upsets against traditionally-stronger basketball nations when the tournament tips off in London.
Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt said: “The progress that the men’s basketball squad has made since London was awarded the Olympics in 2005 is quite remarkable.
“British Basketball has worked hard to prepare a squad that is capable of producing credible and competitive performances for Team GB against the very best nations in the world at the Olympic Games.
“They will be faced with a tough group but recent form suggests there is no reason to be fearful.
“They’ve secured some brilliant results in the last few years and were fantastic when the Test Event came to London last August, so there’s every reason to believe they can progress beyond the group stage.
“The home support at the Basketball Arena in the Olympic Park will create the kind of atmosphere that will get the best out of our athletes.
“This is a chance for our basketball players to raise the profile of this exciting and high-tempo sport and inspire youngsters across the UK to take up the sport.”
Performance Director Chris Spice added: “It has been an incredible journey for this team since 2006 and we are very pleased to announce our strongest ever squad.
“I would like to congratulate all those who have been selected.”
Head coach Chris Finch admits that cutting the basketball squad down to a final 12 was a difficult task.
He added: “We had a really productive camp in Houston and to finally announce the Olympic team is fantastic.”