Great Britain coach Chris Finch is set to finalise his 18-man training camp squad in the coming days, six weeks before his players gather in Surrey to begin preparations for Eurobasket 2011.
With Finch effectively calling the gathering the start of a two-year programme headed into London 2012, it seems likely that GB will match other European basketball countries by fielding their strongest squad.
So who is likely to make the initial cut and who will be missing out?
Luol Deng, Joel Freeland, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Drew Sullivan, Dan Clark, Nate Reinking, Flinder Boyd, Ogo Adegboye, Kieron Achara
MVP understands these nine have already accepted their official camp invitations already and will report for duty, bar unforeseen incidents, on July 31. Mensah-Bonsu is rehabbing injury but his club, Asvel, say he will be ready in time for camp.
With Freeland (right) – currently the subject of interest from FC Barcelona – already working out in Malaga, and the others returning from last year’s core group, this is likely to be the nucleus once more.
The Question Marks
Rob Archibald, Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Ben Gordon
The trio have been invited to camp.
Archibald (left) has publicly declared his intent to return after a year’s break but impending fatherhood could upset his plans.
Gordon is also a doubt due to potential parental duties – and previous call-offs.
Bryan-Amaning has previously indicated that he would wait until the NBA Draft is over before determining his plans.
Justin Robinson, Eric Boateng, Devan Bailey, Rob Yanders, Ryan Richards, Germayne Forbes, Flo Larkai, Devon van Oostrum, Randall Hanke, Andrew Thomson
Robinson had a decent senior season in college and should get a nod. Bailey’s sophomore year saw him make little headway and after barely featuring 12 months ago, his spot is in doubt.
Boateng survived camp with the Denver Nuggets last autumn but failed to shine in the D-League. He should at least get a shot in camp. Yanders sat out half the year before impressing in France’s third division. He might not make the initial squad but as a long-time Finch favourite, he would be in line for a call if there are any call-offs down the stretch.
Forbes, beset by more medical problems, missed a lot of the season and seems an unlikely choice despite his loyalty.
Larkai took the long road to Japan, helped his team win a title, and deserves another look despite the logjam at the SF spot. Richards, having sat out a year, is in dire need of games to restore his stock to NBA Draft level. Like Van Oostrum, if he impresses with the Under-20s, he might get the call-up and the opportunity to make the final 12.
Thomson has had a great year in the BBL, named as the winner of the Best of British award. Even his coach Tony Garbelotto believes he’s a leap away from this level but he would be a useful camp prescence, especially with Tafari Toney apparently omitted. However, he’s not had an invite, likewise Hanke who had a productive season in Sweden. But both should get a look if any of the bigs are forced out.
Finch has also promised to add a handful of players from the GB Futures team which will face Germany next month. With a number of capped players expected to be given an early run-out then, there should be a healthy competition to get on the plane to Lithuania.
Plus, it seems that every year, British Basketball has unearthed someone new with a UK passport. Watch this space.
Pics: Action Images / Matthew Childs, Wooller.com
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