“Give us more respect,” declared Teddy Okereafor after GB polished off their summer mission.

Four wins out of four, top spot in their EuroBasket pre-qualifying group, and the appetising challenge secured of taking on France, Germany and Montenegro over the next 18 months in the qualifiers for EuroBasket 2021.

Not to mention a record seven-game winning streak collected via Wednesday’s 93-65 hammering of Luxembourg.

A prize earned. But also a huge point proved to those who lost belief or doubted their talents during the slump towards Europe’s basement and a spell where positive results were scarce.

Now, Great Britain’s men are back on an upwardly mobile trajectory.

“We’ve showed that we can play good basketball,” stand-in captain Myles Hesson, the stand-out of this brief summer, declared. “We beat the teams that were put in front of us.”

But now comes a six-month hiatus until the group reconvenes in February. An awkward time, when head coach Nate Reinking is scheduled to be tied up coaching the Cleveland Cavaliers’ G-League team, the Canton Charge.

It is understood that the ex-GB guard has not ruled out negotiating a temporary release from his day job. That would be a huge plus, Gareth Murray declares.

“That’s been one of our biggest problems over the last few years: the changing of the coaches,” the Glasgow Rocks captain said.

“No-one has really known what has been happening with the programme. We don’t know if Nate will be available to come over in February for the opening qualifiers. Everything is up in the air.”

Solving that, and other problems, will not be straightforward. Although UK Sport has nudged Sport England to divert some of its pathways budget to the senior national teams, the hoped-for nirvana of direct Lottery funding will not arrive until 2021 at the earliest, pending a change in strategy following the Tokyo Olympics.

It will be not be unlimited riches regardless, even if GB’s women help the cause massively by reaching the Games next summer.

A change in attitude might be an easier ask, as Okereafor demanded

We have a good thing, the guard asserts. The desire is to keep this going.

“It’s a testament to everybody that plays for the team and how much pride they take in pulling on the Great Britain jersey,” underlined the Londoner, whose Ironman streak of 43 consecutive appearances for GB has included both the current high and the past low of ten defeats on the bounce.

“We all want to win and we want to progress the sport and compete with the best teams in Europe.

“We have to keep being dedicated, play the right way like we did this entire window. I think we have a bright future.”

Reinking, he insists, has brought a quiet influence. That could be enhanced with continuity and planning to the max heading into 2020 and an opening double-header with the Germans and Montenegrins.

“We can even start prepping now for that,” the coach affirmed. “We’ll try and recruit the strongest squad we can for that window and go after it.”

Okereafor senses a change in a approach that goes beyond Xs, Os and personnel. Less anxiety, more self-belief, a trait shown off to immense effect in Luxembourg City in as positive a display as the side have produced in years.

“We’re not there to hang around or to stay close to these teams,” he underlined. “I think we want to beat them. We’re aggressive and we’re here to compete.

“We have guys who play in all these countries and then come back on the same team. It’s like ‘let’s show we can play the same way that they can play’. We’re not scared. We’re fighting to prove that we can play. That’s what we did in this window when we came together.

“Nate did a great job. Jamie Smith did a great job in handling everything before camp. We’ve got all these problems but we’re not worried about that. We get on the court, we play and practice – and take care of business and that’s what we did in this window.

“I’m excited going into EuroBasket qualifiers now with better teams and we’ll see what happens.”

A few extra names lie on Reinking’s recruiting list. Foremost Sacha Killeya-Jones, bound for German side Braunschweig, and Kavell Bigby-Williams, on a non-guaranteed deal with the New Orleans Pelicans but who could drop back into a top team in Europe.

Add to the current roster Tarik Phillip, newly-signed in Turkey, plus Dan Clark and Andrew Lawrence, and there are options aplenty in plotting how to scramble above the Montenegrins in a realistic pursuit of a berth back in the finals in two summers’ time.

Hesson leaves this campaign with one last heartfelt plea. One squarely aimed at those charged with developing basketball in this country.

Investment, financial and emotional, has been demanded.

“Up the budget,” he said. “We all want to play for the team. You can see that when we go out there, every time we play with pride and passion.

“As long as we can sort out stuff, we’ll go out onto the court and produce the best we can.”

Photo: FIBA

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