With their opening game of EuroBasket 2022 in the books, the challenges ahead don’t get any easier for Great Britain as they’re now set for a mouth-watering clash against the European heavyweights of Croatia, who have a squad littered with NBA and EuroLeague stars to call upon.
Great Britain take on the Croats on Saturday September 3 (1:15pm BST tip) in their second fixture of Group C, and we caught up with star guard Luke Nelson to look ahead to the challenge that Croatia will pose.
“Throughout the age groups, Croatia have been a staple in Division ‘A’ of the European Championships for as long as I can remember. When I played Under-18s at that level they were a dominant team then as well, and they’ve had a number of players go on to play in the NBA, across EuroLeague and at a high level.
“If people are looking at them and not thinking that they’re a top team then they don’t really know basketball. I’m excited for it, it is going to be a competitive game and we’ve got a lot of respect for them, but we feel like we can compete with the best and we’ve got to prove that in games like this.
“We don’t look at them as these NBA players or things like that because at the end of the day we’re on the same court and it is just five against five until we’ve found a winner. We’ve proved that we can compete with teams like this and, whilst we’ll respect them, we won’t put them on a pedestal.”
The team’s campaign in Milan didn’t get off to the best of starts on Friday afternoon as Nate Reinking’s side fell short against a disciplined and physical Ukrainian side who took their first win of the competition, and Nelson reflected on that performance as well as outlining some areas for improvement against Croatia.
“Give Ukraine credit, they played well and were aggressive, playing hard on both sides of the floor. The good news for us is that it is our first game so we can only get better from here and that has to be our focus from now on.
“We have to look at what we did wrong but also look at what we did right and try to limit those bad things and build on the good things. We’ve got to scout Croatia and make sure we’re ready for them because we weren’t ready today.
“When you lose by 29 it is hard to find any positives but I’m going to remember this feeling and hopefully won’t feel it again.”
Reinking’s side have a chance to bounce back immediately from the Ukraine defeat with a much-improved performance as they get set to take on Croatia on Saturday morning at 1:15pm BST.
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