Kieron Achara has insisted Great Britain can reach the 2019 World Cup finals and allow him to tick the one box he’s yet to check in his illustrious career.

The Stirling-born forward will skipper GB against Greece tonight in Leicester in the opening game of the qualification campaign, a tie which marks the first time in charge for head coach Tony Garbelotto.

Even with the Greeks missing several big names including NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, it’s a massive ask to tip off with a win.

But Achara – one of four survivors from the 2012 Olympics – claims a new generation can help push the side to fresh heights and make it all the way to China in two years time before he steps away.

“I would love to play at a World Cup,” the 34-year-old said. “I look at this group and think we have the potential to get there with the level of basketball we were playing last summer. But potential is a great thing to talk about. You actually have to bring it. New coach, new everything. We have to go and deliver.

“Tony’s a great coach and he knows how to adapt to different players. He’s more of a people guy so he’s trying to work out what he brings to the table. He might even surprise me because he’ll bring something new to GB. He’s trying to make a change and move basketball on in this country. I’ve the same beliefs and values as him so I think he’ll do a great job.”

The fixture is GB’s first under the controversial new calendar which has copied football by inserting international fixtures into the season. It has led to a stand-off between governing body FIBA and leading clubs with neither the NBA nor the Euroleague releasing their players to take part.

But the plus side, Achara insists, is that there will be regular games on home soil with the initial hurdle in Leicester and Glasgow’s Emirates Arena slated to host next summer’s qualifiers against Estonia and Israel.

“It’s not even about competitive games,” the Scot insisted. “It’s about having games at home and making people aware of the Great Britain team.

“I’m pleased they’re taking us back on the road again after playing almost every game in London over the last few years. We’ve got the next two qualifiers after this in Glasgow.

“That will allow fans to be exposed to what GB stand for. On home soil you want to compete but having big teams like Greece here is good for the sport.”

Photo: Mansoor Ahmed

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