The Great Britain forward led the way in their opening two pre-EuroBasket 2021 qualifying encounters and will be looking to do the same at the National Basketball Performance Centre on Thursday night.
Hesson had 18 points in the 96-82 loss against Austria in late-November but his 21 point-effort in the following game away to Cyprus helped Great Britain to a 75-61 win. Despite reaching such heights for his country, the situation wasn’t something that ever occurred to Hesson as a youngster getting into the game: “Starting out in basketball I never thought about playing professionally or anything like that, I just enjoyed playing,” he said. “I was never the best so I always tried to push myself to be better than whoever I thought was better than me at the time!”
That drive certainly helped GB as they grabbed a much needed boost with the win over Cyprus, a result that gives them a fighting chance of advancing to the EuroBasket 2021 qualifiers, proper this summer. They need two wins in this window to qualify for the next round of EuroBasket qualifiers.
Eight of Hesson’s 21 points in the win over Cyprus in the capital Nicosia came in a third quarter surge that lifted GB’s narrow lead of 37-34 at the half-time break to a 56-44 cushion heading into the final quarter, showcasing his high-energy offensive prowess but also getting the job done at the other end of the floor, limiting the Cypriots’ scoring options.
The points tally was also a career-high for the Birmingham-born Hesson, who plays his basketball in the top league in France for Gravelines. Despite enjoying a career that has seen him compete across Europe, his roots in the West Midlands aren’t something he’ll ever forget: “Birmingham will always be home for me, 100%. My family and friends are here and I love coming back whenever I can.”
Hesson will want to continue his rich vein of form following a frustrating two years that saw the talented scorer on the side lines through injury. Despite being a key contributor in Great Britain’s first two FIBA World Cup qualifying encounters, averaging 11.5 points a game, Hesson unfortunately fractured his tibia, forcing him to recover instead of compete.
But with his injuries and frustration in the rear view mirror, Hesson is now focused on the task at hand. “I just to keep getting better at basketball and play at the highest level I can for as long as I can,” said the 28-year-old. “As far as GB is concerned I’d like to continue to represent my country as best I can, and hopefully qualify and play in some major competitions in the near future.”
That begins Thursday night as he looks to help GB get another morale boosting win against Cyprus.
Complete Interview with Myles Hesson:
Q: Tell us about how you got into the game and your early days at City of Birmingham?
MH: Rob Palmer from City of Birmingham made a visit to my school in year 8. I always used to play basketball in the playground but never took it seriously until then. He invited a few of us to come down on a Saturday and it all started from there. I played for the club from U14 to U18.
Q: How did those early opportunities shape you as a player and set you on the path to where you are now?
MH: Starting out in basketball I never thought about playing professionally or anything like that, I just enjoyed playing. I was never the best so I always tried to push myself to be better than whoever I thought was better than me at the time.
Q: Despite travelling the world, do you still strongly identify with Birmingham? What does the city mean to you?
MH: Yeah, Birmingham will always be home for me, 100%. My family and friends are here and I love coming back whenever I can.
Q: Your career didn’t quite go to plan when you were unable to move to America as a young player. What did you gain from that adversity and how did you deal with it?
MH: It was a bit disheartening for me, but like with every set back I try to see the bright side and make the most out of what I can. It made me work harder and it all worked out for me in the end.
Q: What does a usual practice day look like to you? What do you do that sets you apart and helps you to get better?
MH: I usually arrive to the court a bit early to get some shots up and prepare myself for the practice session. After practice is over I get some more shots up and every other day I go to the weight room also. I just try to stay consistent with putting in extra work.
Q: What are your goals for the future? What would you still like to achieve as a GB player?
MH: Just to keep getting better at basketball and play at the highest level I can for as long as I can. As far as GB is concerned I’d like to continue to represent my country as best I can, and hopefully qualify and play in some major competitions in the near future.