Anthony Rowe in shock Plymouth Raiders exit
ANTHONY ROWE admitted to being 'gutted' after his shock decision to quit Marjon Plymouth Raiders.
Plymouth-born Rowe has rejected a new contract with his home-town club and the popular big-man is now faced with finding a new employer.
Rowe, who was in his fourth BBL Championship season with Raiders, said he had no choice but to reject the new offer from the city side, even though it was a 'real heart-breaking decision'.
The 27-year-old insisted he 'had not quit the club or the fans. Both are a huge part of me and mean the world to me'.
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Rowe told Herald Sport: "I am gutted I will no longer be playing for the club I love – I've been on an emotional rollercoaster this week.
"I want to emphasise to the fans that because of the greatly-reduced offer I had no option but to turn the deal down and go out looking elsewhere for work.
"Raiders have been a huge part of my life since the age of 14 when I first pulled on a basketball shirt.
"Being named captain of my home-town team was a dream come true, as was playing in front of packed Pavilions. I will miss that more than the fans will know.
"But I understand basketball is a business and although I'm disappointed at how things have worked out, I wish the club and players all the best for the future.
"Hopefully, the fans won't have seen the last of me as it's my ambition to remain in the BBL and play for a silverware-winning side this season.
"I'm fit, free of injury and feel as good as I've been in a long time, except for the fact that I'm no longer a Raiders' player.
"I just hope the fans will understand my reasons for the situation and appreciate it was a business decision that forced me into having to leave."
Raiders coach Gavin Love has moved swiftly to bolster his squad with Canadian Jamal Williams agreeing to return for a second stint with the Pavilions-based outfit.
Williams, a 25-year-old forward, joined Raiders from Mersey Tigers in 2011/12 and will make his second 'debut' for Love's men against Glasgow Rocks and London Lions tomorrow (7.30pm) and Sunday (4pm) respectively at the Pavilions.
Rowe, who signed a new contract with Raiders earlier this year, has hardly played this term as he is recovering from knee surgery in the summer.
Love says Raiders have acted honourably throughout and have had to offer Rowe a new deal 'purely for financial reasons'.
Love said having to add and house another player, Liam Potter, to cover for Rowe has diminished his playing budget and that he is simply offering the 27-year-old Plymothian a 'realistic deal'.
Rowe's contract, said Love, had a clause inserted stating that if the player was not 'healthy by August 13' the 'deal was effectively null and void'.
"Had it been any other player than Ant, we would have had to let him go there and then," said Love.
"We have paid for his operation which cost us £3,500 and also his physiotherapy and recuperation which we were happy to do.
"But having to put up and pay another player, as well as Ant, has cut into the budget forcing us to offer him less.
"It's purely on financial grounds – I didn't want Ant to leave and neither did anyone else at the club – we all love him to bits.
"He's a very good player but for the reasons I have outlined, the deal on the table was all we could afford.
"Ant feels he is worth more and has turned down our offer.
"All we can do is wish him good luck and he goes with all our best wishes as we will miss him. He's a fantastic person."
It is understood a coach of a leading BBL club has received an email from Rowe's agent Mark Considine enquiring if he was interested in signing Rowe.
It is also believed that if Rowe's wage demands are relatively high, only powerhouses Newcastle Eagles and Leicester Riders have the money in the BBL to meet them.
Love welcomed back Rowe's replacement, Williams, who he said is one of the league's 'most under-rated players'.
Williams, Love said, 'is fit though maybe not match-fit' and is able to join Plymouth immediately as he is a free agent and is included in Raiders' squads this weekend.
"Jamal is very versatile and can fulfil a lot of roles as we saw from his time with us last season," said Love.
"He is a guy who can shoot the three-ball comfortably and although he's not a big power-forward – he's 6ft 5in – he's probably one of the best defensive players, because he's extremely strong.
"I love the way Jamal passes the ball and he's smart which is something you can't put a price on.
"I think Jamal is probably one of the most under-rated players in the BBL and will be very good for us.
"It's important to remember Jamal played with Mersey Tigers.
"Last year Jamal did a great job against some of the premier players in the league.
"He's just a very good player and is a good guy. We're delighted to have him."