GRAY LINE: WHO’S ON BOARD FOR 2012?

Niall Gray wraps up his Team GB blogs with a few words on the Poland game and a look at some of the players he thinks will be suiting up for GB next summer.

Well, that’s the end of Team GB’s participation in Eurobasket and the focus now turns towards the Olympics.

You almost wish that the tournament schedule had been in reverse as if we’d been able to start with wins over Poland and Portugal, I feel that momentum would have carried us on to get a win over one of the other three teams in the group.

But no sense dwelling on that, the good thing is that after the awful start, GB can come out of it with their heads held high and their first-ever wins at Eurobasket.

After Poland’s upset of Turkey on Sunday, the twitter and facebook feeds were all going crazy with people trying to work out how much we’d need to beat Poland by to stand a chance.

Every update seemed to have some figure around the fifty-mark and even just before tip there was speculation to what that magic number really was.

As for me, working out that final figure was not a concern. After all, who’d really think that we could beat Poland by over fifty points, especially seeing as Spain or Lithuania couldn’t do it!

Still, very early in the game I allowed myself to briefly think of the possibility as GB raced out to a 10-2 lead. But Poland got back into the game and that was the last I thought of it.

With GB wanting to end on a high and Poland looking for a chance to progress at Turkey’s expense, we ended up with a fairly decent game.

Luol Deng did what Luol Deng nearly always does and led from the front, but I’m sure he’d not mind Joel Freeland getting the plaudits from this one.

Freeland’s had some good games for GB, but I’m sure none will top this one in terms of his all-round game and the fact this is the biggest win to date for Team GB.

Shooting 12/12 from the field, including a three-pointer that put the game beyond Poland’s reach, Freeland tallied an impressive 27 points and 11 rebounds.

Even better was the way he linked up with Deng on the floor, the pair were playing so well that when the NBA lockout ends, Luol should ask his bosses to get Freeland to Chicago!

The passing between the two at times was just sublime and Chris Finch knows that next summer, it could pay off to have both these two on the floor at the same time.

Van Oostrum impressed (Map Photos)

I’ll finish off by mentioning a few of the players I think will be representing Great Britain next summer at the Olympics.

Using the above as a starting point, you can’t see a team without Luol Deng and Joel Freeland in it, it’s a no-brainer unless either (or both) are injured.

One player I’ve missed at Eurobasket is Pops Mensah-Bonsu. Here’s a player that brings energy to every game he plays and it was a blow when he pulled out because of injury.

Pops was superb during Eurobasket qualification and showed why he’s had a few shots at playing in the NBA.

That’s three selected and I’d also have to throw in the ever-improving Dan Clark, along with veterans Rob Archibald and Nate ‘forever young’ Reinking.

As for the Ben Gordon situation, I’ll repeat what I’ve said each time Gordon has been on the cusp of playing for GB, only to pull out for whatever reason.

One thing we’ve seen is that we really need help in the guard department. My argument for Ben Gordon playing next year is that with him in the back-court we gain a very decent shooting guard whose presence would surely take some of the attention off Deng during games.

My only argument against him playing is that he might be taking the spot of someone who has given their all for GB over the past few years. It’s not a great argument, but an argument nonetheless.

Anyhow, that’s six spots I think will be set in stone, every other spot on the roster is up for grabs, especially at the guard positions.

We really need someone to come in and be the leader at point guard. Reinking is a combo guard but father time is catching up with him and ideally I’d like to see him in a back-up role next summer.

One person I hope to see playing next summer is Devon Van Oostrum. Just 9 assists to his name at Eurobasket but second only to Deng on the team.

He’s young, he made a few mistakes and needs to take care of the ball better, but such is our need for a decent point guard, he stands as good a chance as any of making the cut.

I really hope he develops over the coming season and earns himself a spot on the roster.

That’s all from me, thanks for reading.

 

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