Marc Steutel knows Montenegro present a taxing initial test for Great Britain.

The two sides meet on Friday evening in Podgorica (6pm UK) in their opening qualifier for EuroBasket 2021 with Steutel at the helm in the absence of Nate Reinking.

After five days of practice in the city, British Basketball confirmed their 12-strong roster with Ovie Soko set to make his return.

But with GB under pressure to prove their ability to contend for one of the three qualification spots in a group that also includes France and next Monday’s opponents, Germany, Steutel is no little doubt about the challenge offered by their Montenegrins.

“They’re dangerous,” he said. “They’re a physical team. They share the ball well. They’re very smart in terms of how they can get advantages on the offensive end. Guys know their role.

“One of the benefits of the World Cup is that they played that many games in that many days against different types of opposition so you see how they do different things. But it’s the start of the new part of their journey though. They’re under a new head coach as well.

“So we’ve got to be able to get the balance right between understanding who their personnel are and what they can do – and then make some dedicated decisions on how they’ll play. They’ve brought in six new guys.

“It is a challenge. But it’s one we’re looking forward to.”

Montenegro coach Bosko Radovic has not announced his roster. Defence, he predicts, will decide the contest.

His side will be wary of GB’s potential to upset the rankings.

“In all the games we play in this group, we have to be careful,” he said. “The Brits on paper are the least strong team. It doesn’t have to mean anything.”

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Having missed a chunk of the pre-qualifiers, Soko’s experience can be a major boon with the London Lions forward eagerly anticipating his return to the continental fray.

“When you can get the best version of Ovie, he can add something for us,” Steutel acknowledged.

So too might Sacha Killeya-Jones, primed to earn his seventh cap, amid a rookie season with Estonian side Kalev which has seen the big averaging 5.8 points and 3 rebounds per game.

“He’s potentially somebody who will be an unknown quantity in an international sense for the opposition,” Steutel adds.

GB, he hopes, can be a match for their rivals.

“We’ll respect them. But we have areas we’re confident in so hopefully Montenegro has to respect us.

“We’re going to come out there fighting. And we’ll look for areas we have advantages in and come out with the win.”

Team for Montenegro

00 – Ovie Soko (F) London Lions – 8 (caps)
0 – Gabe Olaseni (C) Bursapor (TUR) – 34
1 – Ben Mockford (G) Cheshire Phoenix – 37
2 – Ashley Hamilton (F) Coruna (ESP) – 22
3 – Conner Washington (G) VFL Astrostars Bochum (GER) – 6
5 – Teddy Okereafor (G) Iraklis (GRE) – 43
6 – Luke Nelson (G) Manresa (ESP) – 19
8 – Sacha Killeya-Jones (F) BC Kakev-Cramo (EST) – 6
10 – Dan Clark (F/C) Andorra (ESP) – 102
11 – Gareth Murray (F) Glasgow Rocks – 58
22 – Myles Hesson (F) Élan Chalon (FRA) – 39
23 – Carl Wheatle (F) Oriora Pistoria (ITA) – 13


16 – Fahro Alihodzic (F/C) Prishtina (KOS) – 6
24 – Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye (G) Bergamo (ITA) – 2

Listen to an extended interview with Marc Steutel on the latest edition of the MVP Cast

Image: Mansoor Ahmed Photography

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