Great Britain played their first preparation games in Cobham, Surrey this week, and after the games the first thoughts from the media and one-or-two fans were: Ben Gordon who?
The Netherlands and Nigeria were Great Britain’s opponents this past Sunday and Tuesday. GB played without Luol Deng and Robert Archibald, who are both due to arrive next week, plus the injured Pops Mensah-Bonsu.
Still Chris Finch’s young guns put in two solid performances, which now leaves GB’s coach with a dilemma of who stays and who gets the chop ahead of the Olympic Test Event, which begins on the 16th of this month.
The two Eurobasket warm-ups also showed that the future of the Great Britain side is bright leading to 2012 and beyond.
Two players especially that captured my eye were Ryan Richards and Devon Van Oostrum, who led GB’s scoring in the two games against Netherlands and Nigeria respectively.
Ryan showed in the two games played that at 6’10 he can shoot; handle the ball, plus putting it on the floor, but the best part is that he can play the big man’s role. He can rebound, he can score inside and he can get physical. Definitely a fearless competitor and someone who will contribute if he makes the final cut.
Richards, who was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs in 2010 wasn’t at all fazed by the sheer occasion of playing for your country at a senior level. And after the first week of preparation games, he looks a good bet to be in Finch’s plans for Lithuania.
At 18, I thought we might see a nervous Devon Van Oostrum playing the Netherlands, the country of his birth. Far from it in fact. He attacked the Dutch with his quickness and smart decision making. Like Ryan, he was fearless driving to the hoop, despite his lack of size.
What also impressed me about Devon was his work ethic. Such a hard worker on the court, and off it too. I spoke to his dad, Duco after the game, and he informed me that the Caja Laboral guard hasn’t properly enjoyed any time off and has either been studying or playing.
On a side note: Congratulations to Devon for passing a major exam in Spain a few weeks ago.
It wasn’t just Richards and Van Oostrum stealing my headlines though. Matthew Bryan-Amaning looked solid inside along with two smart performances from Ogo Adegboye at the point-guard spot. Ogo found his shooting form against his country of birth, Nigeria.
If there is one weakness in the GB squad, it’s aggressiveness, especially on the glass. They were bullied by Nigeria on the rebounds, and they allowed the Dutch some easy boards at both ends as well. This is something that Finch will work on in the weeks leading to Eurobasket.
But, I do hope that Finch puts his faith in some of these youngsters. I feel that they need this. They are pretty much going to be in the frame for making the London 2012 squad, and there is no place better than in Panevezys, where they will gain experience through playing against some of the best players in the world - plus, they will get valuable experience mentally as well, as they experience a hostile crowd like no other. They will have to learn to play through that, relax and be focused on the task at hand.
The Great Britain youngsters have arrived, and they are ready to fill the gap left by Ben….. Argh, I’ve forgotten his second name.
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