One of the highlights for Great Britain fans in the previous Men’s international window was undoubtedly seeing Devon van Oostrum return to the national team after an eight-year absence.
You have to go back to 2014 to find the last time DvO competed, with a slew of injuries and misfortune preventing the silky smooth floor general from donning GB colours.
Van Oostrum sat down with us ahead of the upcoming FIBA World Cup Qualifiers against Belgium and Latvia to reflect on the previous qualifying window against Greece and Turkey earlier in the summer, and how beneficial that experience has been for him in the intervening months.
“It was very special for me to be back on the floor,” he said. “It has been a long time after having a break of sorts from the GB set-up, where I had a lot of injuries and things like that getting in the way of me being involved how I’d like.
“When you’re injured like that it is really frustrating because you don’t always feel like you can play how you want to play and you don’t feel free to express yourself because injuries are in the back of your mind and so on, and I missed GB a lot because it means so much to me.
“In the last window, being able to play without those worries and not thinking twice about injuries or anything like that, it was like a weight off my shoulders and I loved the experience so much of playing with my friends again. I’m just so grateful for it and happy to have been there.”
“I did feel the nerves stepping onto the floor for that game.”
The 29-year-old point guard was included in the travelling squad for GB’s postponed qualifiers against Belarus in February, and finally got a chance to take to the court in Larissa against the high-flying Greece, when he describes how the rare feeling of nervousness hit him as he took to the court.
Nineteen minutes of court time against the Greeks was followed up by 36 minutes against Turkey at the Vertu Motors Arena a few days later, where DvO had what many – including himself – described as one of his best performances in GB colours. Now he looks to build on those experiences in the upcoming window.
“The biggest thing I took away from the last camp was that those eight years between being involved on the court were over, and even though it had been so long it just felt like being home again once I stepped back onto that floor with the guys and in front of our fans as well, so it was very special for sure,” he said.
“It was nice to get the first window out of the way, if you like, and now I feel like I’ve got the jitters and the nerves out of the way and I can really concentrate in this window on how I can build and find the role where I can best help this team to get the best results possible.
“This is when the fun starts, I think! I was pretty nervous in the last window, especially in Greece as it was my first game back. I’m not normally nervous before games, but to be back playing for GB and given how much it meant to me, I did feel the nerves stepping onto the floor for that game but now I’ve got them out of the way and I’m looking forward.”
“I am very excited to be working to help bring this group together.”
A full complement of talent is available for Head Coach Nate Reinking to call upon at the guard positions for the upcoming windows, which means DvO will be joined by more elite company competing for a spot in the gameday rosters as well as the eventual EuroBasket campaign which follows.
Van Oostrum explains why he is excited by that challenge, and how much he is looking forward to helping the group build towards an incredible end to the summer at EuroBasket.
“I’m really excited for the upcoming window for so many reasons. There are a few really exciting guys on the roster that I don’t think I’ve ever played with, for example, such as Luke (Nelson) so I’m really excited to see how we all come together and push each other forward.
“You want to play with the best players and have the best group together to see how far we can push our country to do well when it counts, whether that is in the qualifiers or in EuroBasket. I’m excited to be a part of helping with that and seeing where it takes me and how I can help the team.
“We need games, we need rhythm and we need minutes with each other, so I feel that will be a big theme going into this camp. It goes without saying that we want to win and we’re going to do everything we can to win all of the games we have ahead of us, but I am very excited to be working to help bring this group together.”