Great Britain coach Joe Prunty has taken a stunning last-minute gamble on Dan Clark in his 12-strong squad for EuroBasket in Slovenia, with Alex Marcotullio and Liam Potter the unlucky omissions.
Clark’s shock inclusion was confirmed on Sunday just before the team flew out from Madrid to Ljubljana.
The Zaragoza forward has missed the entire build-up but British Basketball officials, following a late fitness test, have opted to take a risk on his inclusion to boost a squad which has sustained six successive losses, leaving no room for Potter.
It came 24 hours after it was confirmed the London-born forward failed a medical at his new ACB club Zaragoza, which diagnosed an injury to his right ankle. The team’s doctors had declared a two-month period of rest would be required, making his summons into the GB team an even greater shock, including to his fellow team-mates who had been given no indication of his potential return.
“Liam made great strides over the course of our training,” said Prunty. “We appreciate his efforts and wish him the best with his team this season.
“I am very pleased with the final 12 players we have representing GB at EuroBasket 2013. Although we have faced some tough games in our preparation, we have played some of the best teams in the world which has tested our players and prepared them well for the challenges ahead in EuroBasket.”
Worries over Marcotullio’s ankle sprain was a huge reason for his exit. The American-born shooting guard – who missed the past five games – unwent three fitness checks and workouts in recent days but was told on Saturday that he would miss out.
“It didn’t help,” Prunty said. “The bottom line is when you get to the last cut, it’s always going to be a difficult decision. With Alex, he has a tremendous work ethic and he brings a lot and it’s unfortunate for him that he’s not been able to play.”
GB practiced on Saturday morning for the final time before flying out to Ljubljana ahead of their European opener against Israel.
What has satisfied Prunty is his ability over the last two weeks to try out different rotations and look at a variety of units on the floor. That, he conceded, had been another factor in his thought process.
“You always look at those equations. You factor in other teams, you look at the positions and who they’ll have in EuroBasket, what size and quickness they’ll have. How they look on film, how they looked live. All those things are taken into account.”
Devon van Oostrum, whose inconsistent play and regular excursions outside the system had been a prime concern for the staff, is thought to have survived as a consequence of the risk factor carried by Marcotullio. But during the final two friendlies against Spain, he cut a forlorn figure on the bench, receiving limited minutes.
“Everybody wants to play,” Prunty said. “He’s disappointed he didn’t get a lot of minutes but he’s had a lot of opportunities.
“But one thing I feel really good about is that we’ve had the chance to look at a lot of different combinations.”
The final 12 contains just six survivors from last summer’s Olympic roster and will have four players who will be making their competitive debuts in Slovenia, including Scottish pair Gareth Murray and Ali Fraser who were both last-minute additions to the original training camp squad following a mini-camp last month.
GB squad: Sullivan (capt.), Adegboye, Achara,Boateng, Fraser, Lawrence, Hesson, Johnson, Murray, Clark, Robinson, van Oostrum.
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