Veteran Dan Clark believes Great Britain have a good shot at qualifying from their FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Finals group following last week’s draw.
GB will face hosts Italy, along with Greece, Croatia, Ukraine and Estonia, in Group C of next September’s showpiece tournament.
Of those, only Estonia (#47) are below Great Britain (#41) in the world rankings – with #6 Greece, #10 Italy, #14 Croatia and #28 Ukraine higher – and all five will provide testing opposition.
But GB co-captain Clark, along with head coach Nate Reinking, is in upbeat mood following the national team’s positive performances over the last few years.
Set to play in a British record fifth EuroBasket Finals, Clark believes GB have a real chance making it through the group stage for a first time after qualifying for five finals from a possible six since the team’s inception in 2006.
“It’s wonderful to find out our group for next summer,” he said. “I know everyone is ready to show what we are capable of against the very best in international basketball.
“The group is tough with some historically great teams. In theory it is between GB, Estonia, and Ukraine for fourth place and qualification to the next round but I am convinced we could pull off an upset or two against a European powerhouse next summer.
“It will definitely be a different story to previous EuroBasket Finals!”
Reinking has been to two EuroBaskets as a player (2009, 2011) and two as an assistant coach (2013, 2017) but this will be his first as a head coach.
He is backing his players to maintain the high standard they have been playing at, saying: “It’s FIBA EuroBasket, one of the toughest competitions in the world.
“It doesn’t matter what group you’re in, you’re going to face world-class competition. This core group of players deserve to be at this level because of the commitment they’ve shown and the chemistry they’ve built.
“We have played at a consistently high level over the past three years and that will continue into EuroBasket 2022.”
By the time next September rolls around it will be five years since the last edition of FIBA EuroBasket, and the first since FIBA moved to a new four-year cycle for the men’s competition.
Since 2006, the Great Britain Men’s National Team has qualified for five EuroBaskets – 2009, 2011, 2013, 2017, 2022 – only missing out in 2015.