It’s all about the communication for Great Britain, Gabe Olaseni confirms.

New head coach Nate Reinking had just four days with (most of) his squad before they flew out to Kosovo on Monday ahead of Wednesday’s opening EuroBasket pre-qualifier.

Not remotely enough with fresh thinking and philosophies to introduce, revised schemes to implement and the habitual assimilation of a new face or two.

But the former GB guard, who landed the job at the eleventh hour following the resignation of Alberto Lorenzo, has not tiptoed in gently.

Sitting down his squad at camp in Manchester at the outset and then putting them through their paces, one key part of his process shone through, says Olaseni.

“More clarity and understanding,” he declares. “Telling guys their roles. Explaining in depth what he expects from each individual player. Really putting guys in a position to be as successful as possible.

“He gave us a really good speech at the beginning of the camp and let us know what he expects from us, which is four wins. Everyone is pretty positive. We’re just excited about things.”

Perhaps an understandable shift from Lorenzo who spoke the language of basketball but whose English occasionally lacked the precision of a native.

However with a four-game campaign that also includes two clashes with Luxembourg, there has been a need to be on point from the off.

No complex playbook. No time. Instead, an analysis of resources and how to best to deploy them, even if it is expected there will be some flux in the roster between first game and second.

The over-riding virtue?

“First and foremost, we’re going to work hard offensively and defensively,” Olaseni asserts. “We’re going to try and get the best shot possible. We’re going to try and get stops.

“And of course, we have great athletes, some really good shooters. So we want to get out in transition and get easy points and also stop people and be energetic playing out there.”

Not that Reinking, off his third season as a head coach with Canton Charge of the NBA G-League, will not have a firm grip on affairs on and off court. As a player, the long-time Sheffield Sharks guard was measured and controlled.

Some of that here, Olaseni declares. But offering latitude too, with the kind of empowerment that has served GB’s women so well.

And the centre added: “As players, you always want to be able to play your game and also to listen to your coach. He’s given us some strict principles for us to follow.

“But he’s also given us the opportunity to really play the game we like to play. Not necessarily breaking off plays but making reads because he trusts us all with the ball in our hands. It’s a confidence builder. He trusts us.”


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The leadership committee will serve as an additional counterweight. Veterans, including presently injured captain Dan Clark, Reinking’s former Olympic team-mate.

Yet this team is of a future generation, overhauled, reset. Through a fallow spell that sunk the national side to the depths of last season’s qualification failure but ready to re-emerge and grasp this drink from EuroBasket 2021’s last chance saloon.

Myles Hesson, Teddy Okereafor. Olaseni, all capable to having an eloquent input into whichever tone of voice suits best.

“Dan can scream and shout at me to get what he wants out of me,” Olaseni reveals. “But he can’t do that to someone else. I can’t speak to Teddy a certain way.

“We have to understand that communication part: some guys you can’t scream at, some guys you have to put an arm around. Others you wait until you’re away from the court.”

This is also an off-season showcase, in practice, for those free agents among the group. Olaseni has not re-signed with German side Wurzburg despite helping the team to reach last term’s FIBA Europe Cup final.

He has wells of experience now from Spain, Italy and France as well as the Bundesliga. Solid numbers. Well-regarded, plus a record on the international stage.

The Londoner awaits the right offer after rejecting those placed on the table thus far. At 27, he has a clear vision of what would appeal.

“Just a good opportunity to play. Winning is very important. Being on a good team with a good group of guys. That’s the most important thing. I feel I can live anywhere. So the country is not as important as the situation.”

Kosovo first. GB’s players pulled away from Love Island on catch-up to plug into Luxembourg’s narrow victory in the opening game in this three-team duel.

Scouting has been undertaken. A read made. GB may have fallen among minnows but they are no shark yet.

Expect a vicious scrap to survive and move onward, Olaseni underlines.

“Both teams are going to be tough. Well coached. Versatile players at all positions. Definitely we’re going to lock in. That’s where the game is going to be won.

“I think we can score with the best of them but coming down the stretch in close games, those are the things we have to do to win.”

Photo: Ahmedphotos

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