New Great Britain coach Joe Prunty is learning the ropes but is getting great support from his assistant coaches as he prepares for “the best tournament in the world”.
In GB’s first warm-up for Eurobasket and Prunty’s first game in charge the Brits defeated a Puerto Rico “B” team 61-55 at the recently re-opened Copper Box Arena in London’s Olympic Park. The Puerto Rican team are currently training in Florida ahead of FIBA Americas tournament in Venezuela at the end of August.
Many were questioning Prunty’s involvement with the Great Britain set-up to start with – as a man who has been an assistant coach at the Cleveland Cavaliers – the American’s only real experience as a head coach as come in the NBA Summer League.
His cause though has been helped with the addition of Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv assistant Guy Goodes; a person many believed should have former coach Chris Finch’s replacement.
GB fans though have instead got the best of both as Goodes has helped Prunty’s transition into the “European” style of basketball and with former GB international Nate Reinking and performance analyst Kwame Graves on board, the ex-NBA assistant is thankful for the support he is getting.
“[They have been] outstanding, all of the coaches have,” Prunty said. “Guy Goodes has been excellent, he’s a wealth of knowledge and I think there’s a lot of times we want to put the label on that he’s a great international coach, he’s a great basketball coach period. He knows the game of basketball.
“Nate Reinking is the same, but Nate Reinking just doesn’t have the coaching history at this point, but the reality is Nate Reinking has been coaching on the floor for … we can all count the years.
“Kwane Graves has been great as well just in player development, working with the guys, being on the floor, talking to us or talking to each other. We have very good staff.”
Great Britain’s chances in Slovenia next month have been damaged with the news that NBA players Luol Deng and Joel Freeland will not be available for selection plus with Pops Mensah-Bonsu out and Prunty sweating over the fitness of Dan Clark, it will be a severely weakened squad headed to Eurobasket.
With that in mind, Prunty’s goal is to be defensive-minded. The team morale has been high in the first weeks of training camp as Prunty prepares his team for what he calls the best basketball tournament around.
“We certainly want to have a big emphasis on defence this year,” he said. “The other thing is that at Eurobasket, nothing’s easy. Arguably this is the best tournament in the world. Not only the competition but the format itself is very difficult, so we are really focused on the guys and when I say that it’s all of them, everyone that’s part of the program, focusing on what their roles are and learning what their roles are.”
Great Britain will be in Group A, which is based in Ljubljana where they face France, Germany, Israel, Ukraine and Belgium.