Express & Star

Whitney follows in her family legacy by lifting the cup

Winning basketball titles on a national and international level seem to come naturally to the Allens.

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Whitney has become the latest family member to claim a top title in the sport, with the 26-year-old, from Dudley, following the footsteps of her sister, Dominique, and father, Clive, after winning the WBBL Cup.

Her father was a stalwart of the former Birmingham Bullets, who won two British Basketball League play-off championship titles during a stellar career, and now runs West Bromwich Albion’s basketball programme.

Meanwhile, her sister has played across Europe and won silver with Team England at the last Commonwealth Games.

Whitney Allen, who plays for Leicester Riders alongside working full-time as a children’s social worker, said lifting the title over at the Sevenoaks Suns, on Friday, by a scoreline of 78-67, had been one of the biggest achievements of her career to date.

The final was delayed due to Covid restrictions but Whitney and the rest of the Riders dominated the early proceedings against the Suns and held off a few late rallies to claim the cup.

“I think because we have been practising for so long now, since the middle of August to be precise, we had really got into a rhythm and have a really good feel on how each other plays,” she said.

“So some breaks in between didn’t really faze us too much. We all want the same goals and we use everyday as an opportunity to get better and a step closer towards each goal.

“We were really focused going into the game and knew what we needed to do in order to be successful in the final.”

Whitney said she had played the game of basketball ‘as long as I can remember’ after her father, Clive, first encouraged her to pick up a basketball.

“Dad got me into the sport but I haven’t actually won that many trophies through my career,” she said. “I think the biggest win was when I played over the United States and we won a conference title.

“But I think coming from a basketball family and watching both my dad and sister be successful in their careers, it’s always inspired me to do well and keep up with their accomplishments.”

However, Whitney admits that while enjoying her job away from basketball – as well as being engaged to be married – she is happy using the sport as ‘a get away’ and ‘a little hobby on the side’ for now, even with the Birmingham Commonwealth Games around the corner.

“We will see what opportunities present themselves in the future but it’s not something I’m striving for and would be exceptionally surprised if that happens, so for now I just want to enjoy basketball and have fun with it,” she said.

“Training and playing during Covid has been difficult for me, especially with my work, but I think our club and the university where we train and play have managed the Covid situation well, which has made it easier for a lot of the team and myself to continue to play.

“It’s a privilege to still be playing and we don’t take it lightly as not many people around the world have this opportunity.

“I was also supposed to be married to right now but due to Covid that date has been moved back.”