Today’s news: Everyone’s favorite ragtag bunch in the upcoming EuroBasket 2009 tournament, Team Britain, maintains their “pip pip tally ho” attitude heading into what is certain to be one hell of a barrage.
The official website for EuroBasket 2009 is running a story about Britannia head coach Chris Finch’s continued positive attitude, despite the loss of two good men out on the IR with shrapnel problems. Sergeant Finch continues to accentuate the positive in the face of the mighty enemy, namely a sibilant axis of Spain, Slovenia and Spain.
Says this brave leader of men: “People outside the group might think we’re crazy, but we’re going to win it.” Finch goes on to philosophize that “We have to have that mentality. If we shoot for the stars, we might just get the moon.”
Or, to put it more succinctly, “We’re going over the top, men!”
The official report follows. But first, a metaphor for what Team Britain will be going up against a month from now:
(Eurobasket2009.org) – Great Britain coach Chris Finch is certain his team will make a big impact at the EuroBasket in Poland next month.
‘Big’ because he has a roster stacked full of big men and a need to accommodate them all as he covers for the absence of Luol Deng.
With the Chicago Bulls star sidelined by a leg fracture, the stand-out players on the GB squad are the likes of Robert Archibald, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, and Joel Freeland – who all share one common attribute – they all play center.
“We’re very deep at the big man position,” Finch said. “That’s going to be our strength this year, going inside with Archibald, Pops and Joel.
“We have some real high-quality guys there.”
GB will have to change their style of play without the versatile Deng, who has filled up to four different roles on the court for Finch.
“We’re definitely less dynamic without him,” Finch added. “I suppose we become a bit more of a traditional basketball team, but even so, with the talent and the depth we have, I believe that our 12-man roster will be more talented than ever before.”
All three of the centers will attract attention for different reasons in the build-up to EuroBasket.
With no Deng and no Ben Gordon around, Mensah-Bonsu is the sole NBA player on the GB squad, having established himself with the Toronto Raptors last season after two seperate spells in the league trying to secure something more than a short-term contract.
Archibald is returning after missing last summer’s program through injury, and the former NBA man brings a wealth of experience and a mentality to pass that knowledge on to the younger players around him.
One of those who stands to benefit most is Joel Freeland, who enjoyed a breakout campaign with Gran Canaria last year and was rewarded with a move to Unicaja Malaga – where he joins Archibald on the roster going into next season.
“He had a huge, breakout campaign last year,” Finch said of the 22-year-old Freeland. “His performances with us I think really opened the eyes of his coach in Spain and when he went back there he started playing a lot more minutes. Now he’s signed with one of the premier clubs in Spain.
“There’s no better guy he could play with than ‘Arch’. This is a guy who has played in the NBA and works extremely hard and demands the same of those around him.”
GB were handed a tough draw for at the EuroBasket, where they will face Spain, Serbia and Slovenia in Group C, but Finch is not intimidated.
“People outside the group might think we’re crazy, but we’re going to win it,” he said.
“We have to have that mentality. If we shoot for the stars, we might just get the moon.”