With two fixtures to go in the first round of FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 qualifying, Nate Reinking’s Great Britain Men’s National Team are set to face their toughest test to date in the group, with crucial fixtures against Greece and Turkey to come in the next week.
Reinking’s squad travel to Larissa to prepare for their first game of the window against the Greeks on Thursday (30 June) before returning home to Newcastle ahead of Sunday’s (3 July) final fixture of the first round against Turkey.
Both opponents have announced rosters laden with high-profile talent from the NBA, but the GB Head Coach discussed why being perceived as underdogs may work to his team’s advantage.
“No doubt we’re seen as the underdogs but you’ve seen it from these guys time and time again in these situations that they’ve delivered hugely when the odds are against them and there’s no reason they can’t do the same this time,” he said.
“They have the belief in themselves, in their team, in their staff and what they can do and that belief just radiates throughout the whole programme. Going to Greece and winning for any country is a tall order, and to beat Turkey – especially with the roster they’ve announced – is no easier.
“The chemistry and togetherness of these guys though is incredible and we’ve proven in the past that challenges like these bring the best out of them, so we’re excited for the window and eager to see what comes of it.”
‘I’m looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together in this window’
GB enter this window in unprecedented form, having won 12 of their past 15 games – a run that extends all the way back to the 2018-19 season and includes wins over the European heavyweights of France, Greece, Germany and Montenegro.
The 24-man squad announced last week by Reinking is built around a core group of veteran players who have committed to every international window during his tenure as Head Coach and features all 13 players who competed for GB in the November 2021 window, with the GB legend outlining that this speaks to the team’s biggest strength.
“The biggest strength of our roster is our consistency, for me, in that we have a group of players who have been ever-present in the team for so long and a number of players who may not be available every window but are there for most of them.
“I keep reinforcing to the players that this team is theirs more than it is anybody else’s – whether it be the coaching staff or people above that – and they’ve done a great job of taking ownership of that and committing to the team the way they have done, which is a huge part of our success.
“Each and every one of them loves being involved, has so much pride in their national team and has made sacrifices along the way, so it really is down to them and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together in this window.”
‘We’re always trying to increase the family’
There are five players included in Reinking’s 24 who are yet to win their first caps for their country at senior level, but Patrick Whelan, Callum Lawson, Amin Adamu, Jaiden Delaire, and Amari Williams are have selected off the back of great seasons and will be eager to get their first caps under their belts.
“We’re missing a couple of core guys for one reason or another, and the timing of this window is always difficult for some, so this is an opportunity for us to bring in some younger guys that we haven’t seen live in this situation and we want to take advantage of that,” added Reinking.
“These are guys that we’ve had our eyes on for a long time, so to have this opportunity to bring them into the fold and see what they can do as part of the group is great and exciting for us and they could all be players that have a big role to play for the national team in the future.
“We’re always trying to increase the family, so to speak, as you can see we do include two or three new faces in every window, and we’ve done the same this time and we believe these players could have bright futures with the team.”