Head coach Marc Steutel and captain Dan Clark have reflected on a challenging and unprecedented week for the Great Britain Men’s team.
At the end of a FIBA 2023 World Cup Qualifying window that should have seen GB compete twice against Belarus, before both games were postponed due to the ongoing situation in Ukraine, Steutel and Clark have shared their thoughts on events and the progress of the group.
“There are things in the world that are bigger than basketball,” Steutel said. “It is heart-breaking to see the things that are happening in the Ukraine, which completely puts basketball into perspective.
“We’ve had a lot of time this week to discuss everything as a group, including the aims and objectives of this week with a view to playing two games, so we’re obviously disappointed not to have played. But we’ve progressed a lot this week through being together and working towards a common goal and I’m proud of how we’ve conducted ourselves.”
Clark said: “It has been a difficult window, especially from a mental aspect because of the uncertainty around the world at the moment, but I think the right decisions were made.
“The guys came in, were professional, we prepared in the right way and were ready to play, so we can only be happy with the way we’ve conducted ourselves.
“My biggest thank you goes to the players and staff within our group”
The camp was rescheduled at the beginning of the week after the UK Government advised against all but essential travel to Belarus, where GB had been scheduled to train in the build-up to a qualifier against the Eastern Europeans on Friday.
Newcastle again became a home from home for the team, where they were scheduled to face Belarus in the return game on Monday (28).
Having had great success and created many memories in Newcastle in recent times, Steutel and Clark were eager to praise the community of Newcastle for their support for the team.
“We’ve been here in Newcastle for three windows and the Newcastle Eagles organisation have been absolutely first-class, going out of their way to make sure that we have everything we could possibly need to perform at our best, and the hotel staff have been fantastic too.
“My biggest thank you goes to the players and staff within our group. The mood in the group is very much centred on the success of the group, wherever we’ve come from and whatever our circumstances are away from GB and I’m really pleased to have had another good camp where we’ve been able to make some progress towards our goals.”
Clark echoed those comments, adding: “It was bad news for the Eagles to not have our game going ahead, as well, and I think their fans have really enjoyed having us and supporting us over the last few games, getting behind us to help secure really big victories over the last few years, so hopefully we’ll be back soon to put on a performance that they deserve.”
“When we have our strongest team together who knows what we can do”
While the decision was taken to postpone both fixtures, the team still benefitted from the week as they had the chance to inject some fresh blood into the group, and also some welcome returning faces who haven’t been with the GB squad for some time.
Clark elaborated on the performances of his teammates, and discussed the capabilities of this group when everybody is fit and available.
“The main positives are that we got to get together again, we got to practice together,” he said. “We love seeing each other and each other’s company, but we’ve also been able to bring some new guys in this camp which has been really useful and is only going to make us better.
“Patrick (Whelan) has had a really good week, as has Jacob (Round), and Devon (van Oostrum) has come back in after a while and added another aspect to our play, so we’re really happy with that and very aware we’re missing key guys who are only going to make us better too.
“In the summer when we hopefully have everybody available we can go from there, but when we have our strongest team together then who knows what we can do.”