ARCHIBALD SAYS FOCUS NOW ON LONDON

Robert Archibald believes Great Britain’s basketballers are now ready for the challenge of the Olympic Games despite exiting EuroBasket in the first round.

An 88-81 win over Poland in their final group game on Monday wasn’t enough to save Chris Finch’s side from an early departure from Lithuania with just two wins from five games.

However there were positive signs in what Finch has always termed as ‘the process’ in building towards London 2012.

“We wanted to finish with a win,” admitted Archibald. “We felt like we deserved it. We want to go up the ladder, step by step, as we move forward and hopefully now the world will start looking at us a serious team and give us respect.

“We can’t become a top ten team overnight. We have to keep working at it.”

Chicago Bulls star Luol Deng hit a game-high 28 points to remain as the tournament’s leading scorer but with Joel Freeland admitting disappointment in his own overall performance in the tournament, only Dan Clark emerged with his reputation truly enhanced.

GB will now look to the return of Pops Mensah-Bonsu next summer, and possible additions to the squad, to boost their Olympic hopes.

But the message from within is that it will be vital that players report for the opening day of training camp to maximise the hosts’ chances.

“It’s going to be huge,” said Archibald, who arrived late this summer after the birth of his first child. “Stuff always comes up for guys. You hope there are no injuries or personal stuff getting in the way.

“But next year, we know we’re going into the absolute pinnacle of international basketball so we have to be sharp, be prepared and have everything ready to go.”

And Archibald insists no-one should be demoralised by the failure to progress out of the initial phase.

“We came in with realistic expectations,” the Zaragoza centre said. “We knew the first three games were going to require a big time upset. But we needed to show a lot of mental toughness to win the last two, especially with five games in six days.

“All this is a big statement about the progress we’ve made and it gives us something to build on going forward.”

Gasol receives treatment

Gasol: ankle sprain (FIBAE)

Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol is expected to be fit for the second round of EuroBasket in Lithuania, despite sitting out Spain’s 65-57 defeat on Turkey on Monday.

The Spaniards were already guaranteed first place in Group A of the competition and opted not to risk Gasol, who sustained an ankle sprain during Sunday’s victory over the hosts.

“He is day to day,” said Spain coach Sergio Scariolo.

“He’s having treatment and the doctors will assess him before the second round begins.”

Get a full insider’s view from the Great Britain camp in the new issue of MVP Magazine – out next month. To order your copy, go here.

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