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DOZEN HOPE FOR SLOVENIA SPOTS

Posted in: Global by . August 26, 2013 / 06:58

joe Prunty practice 568It’s decision time for Great Britain coach Joe Prunty. But who will be jetting to Slovenia at the end of this week for EuroBasket?

The American, deep down, must feel like the unluckiest man alive (his new, undoubtedly lucrative, contract in Brooklyn aside). When he took the job, he knew full well that Luol Deng was not going to play in Slovenia. It was fairly apparent that Joel Freeland would also be absent.

But the withdrawal of Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Matthew Bryan-Amaning were unexpected while Dan Clark’s late injury was a cruel additional blow.

Now, having lost four consecutive friendlies to European opponents, with only two wins against a sub-strength Puerto Rico to break the monotony, he is set to choose his final 12 for EuroBasket ahead of this week’s two friendlies with Spain.

So who will be the dynamic dozen that will line up against Israel next Wednesday in the tournament opener. In the interests of full disclosure, I’ve only seen two of the six warm-up games to date (I’ll have a closer look in Murcia and Zaragoza) but I’ve spoken to those inside the camp and some observers from the outside. So this is how it’s likely Prunty’s team will shape up.

Backcourt: Andrew Lawrence’s injury has caused a major headache. Slated to be the starting point guard, he will return against the Spanish and the hope is that can offset some of the offensive struggles. Devon van Oostrum has had ups and downs shooting-wise but has generally been GB’s most formidable playmaker with neither Ogo Adegboye or Justin Robinson doing enough to stand out.

At the two-guard, Kyle Johnson has slid into the starting role but hasn’t looked as comfortable as he did coming off the bench. Alex Marcotullio has impressed in spells but injury has left him 50:50 to be available. If he can prove his fitness, expect Adegboye to miss out again in a toss-up with Robinson.

Smalls: Drew Sullivan’s late change of heart to return to GB has proven a godsend but Myles Hesson has impressed in spot minutes. So too has Gareth Murray, a late callback into the squad after being left out following the second round of cuts.

A number of coaches in the BBL have told me they see immense potential in the Scot as a big shooting guard who can provide a tougher match-up. He may find the step up in class a challenge but the coaching staff have liked his smarts and defensive ethic. Orlan Jackman, on the other hand, is a surefire omission, based on his lack of playing time and inexperience.

Bigs: Kieron Achara has been GB’s most consistent performer this summer while Eric Boateng has admirably pushed himself to step up in a starting role even if he has had to contend with a series of tough foes in the middle. Flo Larkai has not convinced entirely with knee issues limiting his effectiveness. He will survive simply because Liam Potter, an odd choice initially, has not made any kind of case.

The surprise has been Ali Fraser, who played his way in through a late trial, had to negotiate his release from his German club, and who has done enough to show that he can be a solid international contributor, even if his best days lie further ahead. Since it was all but accepted, almost two weeks ago, that Dan Clark would not recover from injury, the young Scot has been tabbed to help fill that void.

So my predicted final 12 for EuroBasket is:

Lawrence, van Oostrum, Robinson, Johnson, Marcotullio, Sullivan, Hesson, Murray, Achara, Fraser, Boateng, Larkai

Pic: Mansoor Ahmed/BB

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