GRAY LINE: ONE WIN FROM GLORY

[44257] StandardLifeGBbeatGermany.jpg_lowOne more game and the Great Britain men could end up in the next round. Better GB teams tried and failed at the previous two EuroBasket tournaments, but Joe Prunty’s squad are on the verge of giving British basketball the massive shot in the arm it so desperately needs.
There’s a chance and while it’s not much of one, just be glad that GB go into the final game against Ukraine with something to play for. Coming into EuroBasket 2013, there were quite a few who thought this team would go home winless.
Unless Ukraine rest all their key players – they are already assured of a place in the next round – they should have enough in the tank to beat Great Britain and if that’s the case, we’ll forever be looking back at the Belgium game as the one that got away.
GB are under-manned and there’s no point re-hashing that fact again, but of the guys who did show up this summer, there’s a few players who could play a big role against the Ukraine, and hopefully help pull off the upset.
First on that list for me has to be Myles Hesson, who just gets better all the time and is providing a decent amount of scoring. Hesson has a tremendous jumping ability which allows him to play against much taller opponents and it’s just a shame that he is not 2-3 inches taller as sometimes it feels like GB are playing with three guards on the floor.
Also having a great tournament is Dan Clark, who at one stage wasn’t even expected to go to Slovenia. Are we glad he got healthy in time!
You wish he’d play a little more inside, given his height, but then Clark is lighting it up from three-point range. It’s not as if he’s just behind the line either, some of those shots are from a foot or more outside the arc.
Something else that’s been enjoyable to watch so far has been his link-up play with Devon van Oostrum and the two are forming a decent understanding at the offensive end.
As for van Oostrum, he has to be considered Great Britain’s marmite; you either love him or you hate him. Unlike marmite, that opinion can change all the time as his decision-making on the court is an issue.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be too harsh as he’s just 20 years of age and we’re expecting him to play like the finished article.
There’s no doubting that van Oostrum is a talented player and I was glad he made the cut as he has the ability to be a key part of future Great Britain teams.
If those players who pulled out this summer hadn’t done so, DVO would not have been in the squad, but whatever he does now can only help make him a better player for the next tournament that Great Britain are involved in.
I really hope he’s saved his best game for Ukraine.
From one guard to another and Andrew Lawrence was immense in the Germany win. He’s done well in Slovenia, but this was the best game I recall him having for GB. Like Hesson, I think Lawrence is a little undersized but he’s improving as the tournament wears on and his contribution against Ukraine could be vital.
These guys are all 24 and under and if we can take anything away from EuroBasket it’s that there’s a few decent players coming through that will hopefully represent GB for a long time to come.
As for the veterans on the team, Kieron Achara and Drew Sullivan are both battling hard all game, every game, and doing a creditable job. I would expect at least one of these guys to come up big against Ukraine, either scoring or rebounding.
However, we’re still waiting for a breakout game from Eric Boateng, who has had a nightmare tournament and seemingly fallen out of the rotation. Against a much bigger Ukrainian team, you can see Boateng getting a chance to play. He has to put the previous four games behind him and give everything he’s got.
Finally, there’s Kyle Johnson who had a fantastic performance in the win over Israel but has been relatively quiet ever since. Like Boateng, we really need Johnson to re-discover his form for the finale.
The Great Britain men have suffered a lot of heartache these past few years, so how great would it be to finally come good in the one tournament where our hopes of qualification were written off before it began?
I don’t need to answer that question, you already know how great that achievement would be.

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