There were plenty of positives for the GB Men’s team to take from their recent FIBA World Cup Qualifying window, after two tough games against the mighty Greece and Turkey.
Despite a number of key players missing the window through injury, a new-look GB roster battled valiantly against two of the powerhouses of European basketball, and players certainly grabbed their opportunities with both hands to show what they can do in GB colours.
Two such individuals are Kavell Bigby-Williams and Devon van Oostrum, who arguably had their best games in GB jerseys against Turkey in Newcastle to close out the first round of qualifying.
A strong presence throughout the game, van Oostrum bagged 12 points and five assists and ran the GB offense for much of the game, whereas Bigby-Williams provided an incredible spark off the bench with 12 points – most of them thunderous dunks! – and three rebounds in 10 minutes of play.
We caught up with both last week to reflect on how much they relished their opportunities.
“I’ve had the time of my life!” 29-year-old van Oostrum said. “I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, the last time I stepped on the floor for GB was eight years ago and I’ve been through a lot in that time, so just to have that opportunity to be back here is huge for me, really huge.
“I’ve been ready for my opportunity, I knew my time would come, and I think I made the most of it. We obviously haven’t had the results we wanted, but I’m just so happy to be back and representing GB and I just have a huge sense of gratitude.
“I just wanted to show my value and I think I’ve done that. Whatever happens going forward, I’m ok with it – I’d love to stay involved and play for GB in every window if I could and if I were selected, and I think everybody knows that!”
Bigby-Williams was similarly positive about how he took advantage of his own opportunity, as his highlight plays – particularly in the second game of the window against Turkey at the Vertu Motors Arena – energised the team and the crowd in a key period of the game.
“It has been a while since I’ve been able to be with the guys, and although we didn’t get the results we wanted I feel like we made a step in the right direction by bringing different guys into the window and giving them their opportunity. If we keep working we can make some noise in EuroBasket.
“I think I did a solid job, on reflection. Obviously, I’d like more minutes, as I’m sure everybody would, but at this level it is just about doing what the team needs and all of us are always going to sacrifice our own interests to do that. I was able to stay ready and when my number was called, I went into the game and produced, so I’m pleased with that, and I’ll stay ready.
“I’m an energy guy with my rebounding and defensive work, so whenever I get a chance to show what I can do I want to make sure I do my best to leave an impression and show the coaches and everybody how much I can bring to the table.”