END OF AN ERA BUT LOOKING AHEAD

As Great Britain end their stint at EuroBasket, they peer onwards to the autumn.

Or, if you look at it another way, Russia is their first – and probably only – warm-up game ahead of November 24’s opening World Cup qualifier against Greece in Leicester.

Winless in Istanbul, and already – along with Belgium – destined to depart following the conclusion of proceedings in Group D – the tie’s only real significance is its farewell act for head coach Joe Prunty before the torch, and the playbook, is passed onwards to Tony Garbelotto.

The legacy, hopes the American, will some seasoning of a roster that contains a number of youthful talents, especially in the backcourt where the average age of the seven guards is a mere 25.

“All the experience you get is invaluable,” Prunty said. “That never changes. The more you’re together, the better off you’re going to be… the more experience these guys get, the better it is.”

At times, the lack of it has raised issues. Too often, especially defensively where only Iceland have been more porous, GB have lacked that casual familiarity with one other that nations like Spain seem to take for granted.

Offensively, there have been plenty of positives, especially the play of Gabe Olaseni who has made plenty of scouts sit up and take notice of his ability to turn garbage into recycled products.

Teddy Okereafor has come of age, as a point guard who can pose questions. Luke Nelson has done enough to catch the eye, even if he will surely be asked to raise his defence in the ACB.

And yet again, we wonder why Eric Boateng has not featured more in a British vest.

Positively, all of these players – assuming Kyle Johnson gets the move back to Europe he covets – should be available to Garbelotto in a little over two months time.

But firstly, Prunty will get to say his goodbyes. With the Russians, officially rejuvenated, looking to top the pool, consolation may be hard to come by.

Even a loss, he hinted, would not entirely render this summer a write-off.

“We’re going to battle again in the game against Russia,” he said. “That’s been one thing that’s been great for the British Basketball Federation this summer – to see the promotions to the A Division.

“Us here now. We got to play Israel and Greece in friendlies who we’ll play in qualifiers. There are a lot of positive things.”

Even if an 0-5 record, plus the senior women’s absence from their EuroBasket, might remove some of the veneer.

“It doesn’t feel like that right now,” Prunty added, “because were focused on this moment. But it’s always a journey not a destination.”

One which, come Friday, will be homeward bound.

Elsewhere… In Group A, Greece eliminated Poland with a 95-77 win. Lithuania topped Group B with an 89-72 victory over Germany while Ukraine thrashed Israel 88-64 to make the Last 16 after Georgia were squeezed out 71-69 by Italy.

Round of 16 games out of Groups A and B
Lithuania v Greece
Germany v France
Finland v Italy
Slovenia v Ukraine

Thursday

EuroBasket, Group D. Great Britain v Russia (12.30), Belgium v Serbia (4pm), Turkey v Latvia (7pm)

Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • MySpace
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Print

You must be logged in to post a comment Login