Larry Austin Jr insists the honour of skippering today’s North select side in the British Basketball League All Star Game belongs to his club, his team-mates and the UK’s hoops-mad fanbase.

The former Cheshire Phoenix favourite joins fellow Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles stars Jordan Johnson, Tajh Green and Rickey McGill at the reborn exhibition clash at London’s Copper Box Arena this afternoon.

Larry Austin Jr. will captain the North select side in today’s British Basketball League All Star Game. (Photos: Gary Forster)

And Austin Jr prepares to take on a talent-stacked South side — featuring the cream of London Lions’ irrepressible roster — with pride coursing through his veins.

This will be the Newcastle guard’s first All Star Game since high school and he said: “It has been a blessing to see the support I’ve received and to be part of this All-Star event — not to mention captaining the team.

“It’s not just an achievement for me, though, because this is something that the Eagles can be proud of and I owe them a lot of thanks for providing the platform for me to get here.

“I’ve played for two of the greatest fanbases [Cheshire and Newcastle] in this league and I know fans of both teams that voted for me and my team-mates in this game.

“Cheshire will always have a special place in my heart because they, like the Eagles fans, have stuck with me and my guys through thick and thin. It’s an honour to represent them in this game.

“I’ve spent three years playing in this country and had an unforgettable experience but now to be part of this game is a fitting next step on that journey.

“I’ve grown a lot in my time here and it has been incredible to see the league grow as well to the point where so many of our teams are putting this country on the map in European competition.”

Austin Jr is referring to the fact that Newcastle, London, Caledonia Gladiators and Bristol Flyers have all competed overseas this season.

And the reintroduction of the All Star Game is part of a wider policy to promote British hoops abroad — including into the lucrative North American market.

Today’s game will be Larry Austin Jr’s first All Star experience. (Photos: Manchester Giants)

A number of deals have been struck with regional broadcasters Stateside this season and if the concept of an All Star Game is still anathema to many British fans then it’s always been a huge focus for the sport in its homeland.

Austin Jr sees this weekend’s clash as a further opportunity to inspire — and engage with — young supporters drawn to the sport’s fast pace and energy.

And he told the British Basketball League: “I have had an All-Star experience before…but in high school!

“This will be my first as a professional. All-Star games are usually a bit more relaxed but I’m a competitor and I want go out there and put on a show for the crowd in what will be a great celebration of this League.

“Ever since I was five-years-old, when I first dribbled a basketball, I fell in love with this game, the pace of it and how it can inspire people. And we have a great opportunity to inspire even more people this weekend.

“As much as it is our achievement as players to make this team, we all have to remember that this platform is not about us.

“There’ll be a lot of kids in the crowd and you never know what impact you can have on people, so if us going out there and competing can be inspiring to the next generation, then that’s what we want to deliver.”

The 2024 British Basketball League All Star Game tips off at 3.30pm and will be screened live on Sky Sports and the league’s YouTube channel.