Commonwealth Games 2018: I owe it to Hackney says Jackman
PUBLISHED: 08:30 05 April 2018 | UPDATED: 08:45 05 April 2018
Hackney basketball star Orlan Jackman said it's always special no matter how many times you wear the England jersey, when speaking ahead of the Commonwealth Games.
The 29-year-old has been selected to represent England in the Gold Coast this month. And the Cheshire Phoenix player is setting the bar high for the tournament and hoping to bring home the top prize.
The England men’s team are in the unseeded pool against Cameroon, India and Scotland and will play their preliminary matches in Townsville.
“To play for your country regardless of how many times you do it is always something special,” Jackman said.
“Whenever the national anthem plays, whenever you put on the jersey and you see the England on the front and your name on the back, is just something amazingly special.
“Each and every time you’ve got to remember ‘I’m representing my country’ and take it in.
“It’s a great honour to represent your country and to represent your country at one of the world’s biggest stages is surreal really. The opportunity to win a medal and show people that basketball in England is something that’s on the rise.”
Jackman wants to bring home the gold medal from the Gold Coast and believes the whole squad will have high expectations.
“My target is to win gold and I’m pretty sure the rest of my team-mates’ target is to do the same thing,” he added.
“We’re going out there to work hard and hopefully bring home the gold.”
The former London Lions player admits growing up in Hackney was the reason he got into basketball.
“The reason why I’m playing basketball is because I went to West Homerton College of Technology,” he said.
“Before then I was playing football until a coach told me ‘you’ve got real potential to play for your country’ and I was like ‘Really?’ That’s when I switched from football to basketball.
“It was solely because I went to a school in Hackney.”
The Oklahoma City University graduate, who has played for Noma Iserlohn Kangeroos in Germany and Portuguese outfit CAB Madeira, believes they have all helped him along his journey.
“Going to university was surreal because I was not long playing the game and I’d already earnt myself a full scholarship to play basketball in the country it originated in,” he added.
“To go up against the Americans, play hard, play tough and make a name for myself gave me the drive and determination to get me to where I am now.
“Learning the game from different aspects and different countries always gives you a more rounded opinion and makes you a dynamic player.
“I believe where I have been to so many places and learnt different tricks, I would say it has made me a valuable asset good enough to play for the country in the Commonwealth Games.”
Jackman’s current season with the Phoenix has a bit of a rollercoaster, but he claims winning the BBL Cup was fate.
“The season has had its up and downs, one of the highlights was winning the BBL Cup a couple of months ago against all odds,” he added.
“We beat all of the teams I used to play for along the way to the final and even a team I played for in the final as well in the Worcester Wolves. You could say it was written in the stars.”
Jackman reached a significant milestone last season as he got up to the 1,000-point mark in the BBL, but he reveals he has set himself no new targets other than to win games with his current team.
“My target is just to win games. Once we win games everything else like all the other accolades, they will happen, but my main focus is to win,” he said.
“Everything is better when you’re winning games.”
The former Newcastle Eagles man is also hoping to try and give back to his local community in Hackney by starting basketball camps in schools from June onwards.
“If they’re not playing basketball, they need to right now and if they’re just starting, work hard and try to find local camps and coaches,” he said.
“I’m trying to go into schools to set up little basketball camps and healthy-eating events, so I will be around Hackney to make sure that we lead people in the right direction.
“I’ve set it up with a few schools already, so hopefully it takes off in June and July as well as the next school year.”
Fixtures, April 5 (men): England v Scotland (5.30pm).
April 6 (women): England v Canada (6.30pm).
April 7 (men): England v India (5.30pm).
April 8 (women): England v Mozambique (11.30am); (men): Cameroon v England (2pm).
April 9 (women): England v Australia (5.30pm).
Qualifying finals on April 10, with women’s semi-finals on April 13 (6.30pm, 9pm) and men’s on April 14 (10am, 12.30pm).
The women’s bronze and gold medal matches are on April 14 (6pm, 8.30pm), with the men’s on April 15 (9am, 11.30am).