KAPOULAS PLANNING AHEAD FOR U20 BID

In three weeks, twenty-two players will descend on University of Essex in Colchester.

Each will be hoping to be one of the final twelve players chosen to represent Great Britain in this summer’s Under 20 European Championships, Division B.

The man charged with trying to get the rising generation of British basketball talents back into Division A at the first time of asking is Andreas Kapoulas, who was promoted to the head coach role in March after having previously been an assistant to Doug Leichner.

“The opportunity to be the head coach and lead the programme is very exciting and something I’m very much looking forward to,” said Kapoulas, who also coaches Bristol Flyers in the BBL.

“It has been a great experience to have been involved the last two years as assistant coach under Douglas Leichner and I’m excited to have assistant coach James Vear returning and a new member of the coaching team in Josh Merrington, a young talented coach from Leicester.

“The programme has done very well in recent years and we want to continue that.

“I’ve been working with James and we’ve been evaluating players since March, looking at stats, speaking to coaches and watching video of players.”

Kapoulas says the players are just excited as he is to get the preparation camp underway.

“I saw an interview with one of the players that was involved with the programme last year, Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye, who was with the Flyers two years ago.

“He said he wants to help to return the team to Division A, so later generations can experience Division A basketball.

“I think that speaks a lot of the culture of the program and it shows the commitment of our players and how much they want to help the GB program progress.”

He added, “James and I are in constant communication with the players and everyone is excited to be involved with the program.

“I think we have a very talented group of players and the camp is going to be exciting.

“It’s going to be intense, it always is, and it’s a great situation that we have twenty-two very talented players coming in and competing for those final twelve spots.”

Kapoulas outlined what he expects to get from the training camp.

“All the players will get a chance to show us what they can do and how they could help the team,” he said.

“It’s not about just getting the best twelve players; it’s about finding the twelve best players that work together.

“It’s about building that chemistry and getting better every day so we will be in the best shape possible for the European Championships.”

“The plan is that we have four days at Camp and then we’re going to Portugal for three days,” Kapoulas added.

“We’ll play three very competitive games with Portugal, Belarus and Sweden before we return to base for another four days.

“We then determine the final twelve players and head to Greece on 9 July.

“We’re flying out a few days early so we can have a couple of preparation games against Portugal and Greece before the European Championships start on the 15th.”

Great Britain will be based in Chalkida, which is about an hour from Athens, where Kapoulas originally hails from.

“I think it will be great for my family to come down and watch but the end of the day the European Championships are my focus,” he insisted.

“Being in Greece is great and my parents can come and see me coach, although I don’t know who they will support when we play Greece… I hope they will be supporting GB!”

“It’s nice to be in the homeland but the focus for me will be for the GB team to perform at the highest level and try to get back to Division A.”

Great Britain were drawn in Group C, where they will face Albania, Ireland, Kosovo, Netherlands and host nation Greece.

The top two teams will progress from the group to the knockout phase and ultimately the top three teams in the tournament will be promoted to Division A.

GB U20 Squad

Andre Arissol, Harvey Barr, Moses Byekwaso, Kyle Carey, Liam Carpenter, Jules Dang Akodo, Malik Eichler, Pharroh Gordon, Sedale Hanson-Young, Selby Hind-Wills, Boban Jacdonmi, Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye, Callum Lawson, Fraser Malcolm, Sam Newman, Kingsley Nwagboso, Theo Oghide, Earl Russell, Joshua Steel, Shaquille Walters, Deane Williams & Findlay Wood.

Main pic: Mansoor Ahmed

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