He didn’t get to take his talents to the hardwood in competitive action for the Great Britain Men’s National Team in the most recent FIBA 2023 World Cup Qualifying window, but Ovie Soko was in fine form as he to discussed his thoughts and feelings about the future of the British game.
“British Basketball is in a really positive place right now and the best is yet to come,” Soko said at the end of last week’s camp and following the postponement of the two fixtures against Belarus.
“As far as the Men’s team, I’m really excited about the programme we have in place here, the direction we’re going in, and the culture is fantastic.
“If you want to build anything successful that is sustainable then you must have the correct culture and way of doing things in place, and I think that is something that is changing for the better across British Basketball.
“There are exciting times to come, for sure, with the investment coming into things like the BBL as well sure to push things along even quicker, so I’m really looking forward to the future.”
“Everybody has bought into that common goal of putting British Basketball on the map.”
The Men’s team are in an unprecedently strong run of form, with 12 wins in their previous 15 outings – with Soko featuring in seven of those fixtures – as they qualified for this summer’s EuroBasket competition and have started well in the FIBA 2023 World Cup Qualifying campaign.
Soko echoed the recent comments of teammate Ashley Hamilton in outlining the key ingredients that have made recent years such a fruitful period for the Men’s team.
“I don’t think there’s been any secret to our success in recent times, really. We’ve won 12 of our last 15 games and I think a big factor behind that success is we’re just a group that loves being together and enjoys playing with each other on the court.
“There is no ego here – if we see other guys on the team doing well for us then we’re happier for them than they probably are for themselves, and everybody here has bought into that team culture and the common goal to put British Basketball on the map.
“I’ve had some good games in that stretch on a personal level, of course, but honestly the highlight for me is just being around these guys. As long as we’re successful as a group, I don’t worry about my own individual statistics – it is just such a joy to be around these guys and share in our success.”
“It is one of the biggest stages in the game to perform on.”
A busy summer awaits the Men’s team, with World Cup Qualifiers in June and July followed by training camp for September’s EuroBasket 2022 competition – which would be Soko’s first EuroBasket for the Men’s team if selected – and he discussed how much room for growth the team has over the coming months before landing in Milan (where GB’s group is based) in the Autumn.
“We can always be dangerous and the more we build this culture and togetherness amongst a really great group of guys, the more our confidence will build, the more big wins we’ll get, and the more we can prove to everybody else that we belong on these big stages. I’m counting down the days to the end of June already to get down to business in the next window.
“Looking beyond that towards September, it goes without saying but EuroBasket would be the pinnacle of my career so far, for sure. It is one of the biggest stages in the game to perform on, and it would be a privilege and a pleasure to be involved in that for my country.
“I just hope that whenever I stop playing for GB that the game is in a better place than it was before I got involved, and I think that is the only goal any of us that are involved can have to be honest.”
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