But the Team GB fans this year have a right too. As the odds have been stacked on Great Britain like no other nation before. Get relegated from Division A, or fail to progress to EuroBasket - and face the strong possibility that, as the host nation at the 2012 Olympic Games, Great Britain will not be represented in the basketball event.
The fans wait nervously also, as a number of the big-name stars have pulled out of the qualifiers. Joel Freeland, Robert Archibald, Mike Lenzley, Andy Betts, Nick George and Ben Gordon - and coach, Chris Finch has put his faith in the youth of Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Devan Bailey, Ogo Adegboye, Ashley Hamilton, Justin Robinson and Dan Clark.
This is a step in the right direction for Great Britain and it gives these young players, most coming from the newly-assembled GB Futures team, a chance to get some valuable on-court experience. Playing the likes of Bryan-Amaning, Bailey and Clark against established nations like Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Ukraine will leave them in good nick for EuroBasket and ultimately, the Olympics.
Some of the players that the fans put faith in last year are not guaranteed to play at EuroBasket and the Olympics, possibly due to injuries or retirement. Players like Nate Reinking, Andy Betts and Andrew Sullivan. Okay, so anyone can get injured - it happens - and it is part-and-parcel of the sports world. But the key is, getting as many proven players, club or college level to experience playing for your country. Look at Germany’s football team at the World Cup just gone in South Africa. Half of them played for the country’s under-21 side a year before and were given the nod for the biggest event in football, most of them playing at most five times of Germany before the tournament - they finished third overall.
Instead of having to rely on untested youth, in case they qualify - throw them at the deep end, and at least give them a taste of being on court for their country. After all, isn’t that why GB Futures was created?
With Ben Gordon; it is a case of being patient. He will put on a GB vest at some point. In the mean time - we have Luol Deng in the team, which has been surprisingly overlooked. We have Flinder Boyd, who was one of Great Britain’s star performers at EuroBasket 09 last year (remember the defensive clinic he put on Rubio in the Spain game?), Andrew Sullivan, who can perform on the big stage. GB still have a very solid squad and on paper, they should be able to progress to Lithuania in the summer of 2011.
The fans will also be pleased to see British Basketball League players, Rob Yanders, Tafari Toney and Olu Babalola in the squad. Joining Andrew Sullivan - showing that the BBL has strengthened and will continue to do so. The BBL will only continue to grow if it keeps on the right track and does not rush into things. Things can only get better.
Great Britain might not have as much experience, but Chris Finch’s troops have the quality - and all the players have to do now, is prove to themselves that they can perform on the big stage - and surpass the loyal band of GB followers’ high standards.
Standard Life Great Britain are rebuilding already.
John Hobbs for TalkBasket.net
Tags: John Hobbs