He manned the touch line with authority for the entirety of the qualification campaign proper as Acting Head Coach and, now that EuroBasket 2022 is on the horizon, Marc Steutel is eager to enjoy his coaching debut at a major tournament for the Senior Men’s National Team and is hoping that the team can make some history along the way.
“I hope it is special!” Steutel said.
“Being there and participating in EuroBasket is an experience I’m looking forward to, but ultimately we’re going there to compete and to win, and I think that desire and belief is what is special about our group.
“When I started coaching and was involved in the junior National Teams, I always wanted to be a part of the senior Men’s category, so to have been here now and on the verge of working at a EuroBasket with a great group of players and staff, it is something I’m very excited about and will stay with me for many years.
“It feels like it has been a long time coming to be honest, but the players and staff absolutely believe that we can compete with the best in Europe, and we now have a chance to go and prove it.”
“That shows you how well we’ve done to get there.”
There are only 24 spots at EuroBasket and this will be the Men’s team’s fifth outing in the competition, but what makes GB’s accomplishment in booking a place at Milan all the more impressive is considering it in the context of the teams who haven’t made the cut.
Last Sunday’s showdown at the Vertu Motors Arena was an epic encounter between two teams who left it all out there, but Latvia – with a number of NBA stars in their ranks – aren’t travelling to EuroBasket as they failed to qualify, which Steutel says is a strong endorsement for GB’s qualifying performance.
“When you look at the fact we played a really difficult game against Latvia recently with some legitimate NBA stars, they’re a side that aren’t even going to EuroBasket, so that shows you the level of competition there was in qualifying and how well we’ve done to get there.
“We’ve all reflected on qualification and identified those things we did well to get here and the things we need to improve on before we get to Milan and get to playing games, and that is our focus now moving forward to get better day-to-day.
“It has been challenging time in terms of when we started our camp, but we just need to focus on controlling what we can and we’ve got a bunch of competitors in our locker room who are proud, dedicated, willing to sacrifice everything to go out there and win games of basketball. We know how difficult it is going to be in that group, but we want to prove ourselves against the best and now we have an opportunity to do so.”
“My main focus is just to be really present.”
With such a frantic period of preparation and the competition schedule sure to be relentless as well with five games in seven days and a number of practice sessions in between, it will be difficult for players, coaches and staff to take in the magnitude of what they’ve achieved by reaching the competition.
Steutel reflected on how he plans to do that, and what the key focus for him will be on a personal level during the competition.
“I have to say a huge thank you to the Newcastle Eagles for allowing me to commit to this, because this timing obviously coincides with the start of the BBL season – which I am really excited to get going with – so I’m not sure I’ll have too much spare time to digest what we experience at EuroBasket.
“My main focus is just to be really present, to immerse myself in every day, to get better in every session and game that we have and hopefully feel some progress in our group. In an ideal world that leads to wins.
“We’re aware of our history in the competition and the last time we went 0-5, and that was after a really good summer of preparation, so we want to make sure that isn’t the case again and that we use our experience, talent and fight to compete as best we can and get the outcomes we want as a team.”