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Page last updated at 06:53 GMT, Saturday, 5 September 2009 07:53 UK

Finch names GB EuroBasket squad

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EUROBASKET 2009, Poland, 7-20 September
GB matches: 7 September v Slovenia (1715 BST); 8 September v Spain (2000 BST); 9 September v Serbia (2015 BST)
Coverage: GB games live on Red Button and BBC Sport website (UK only)


GB coach Chris Finch has selected his 12-man EuroBasket finals roster, with Justin Robinson and Jermaine Forbes failing to make the cut.

Fit-again Kieron Achara, Houston's Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Malaga's Rob Archibald and Joel Freeland are all included.

Former GB Under-20 international Dan Clark is the youngest player and will travel to his first senior finals.

"We have a lot of depth up front in the big guys and that will be the strength we need to play to," said Finch.

"For the first time yesterday we had a chance to have our full squad train together. Everyone is in the right frame of mind to compete. "

Team GB begin their campaign in Poland against Slovenia on Monday as they attempt to put a trying summer behind them.

Their performance on Europe's top stage - for the first time in 28 years - will help determine whether they get to play in the London Olympics in 2012.

Denied an automatic host's spot, GB must convince Fiba, the world governing body, that they are competitive at the top level in order to take part in 2012.

Even before they assembled for the summer programme, GB had been hit by the news that Chicago Bulls star Luol Deng would not play through injury and that the anticipated debut of another NBA player, Ben Gordon, would not take place.

Since then, almost every player on Finch's team has been injured and that was before a gastric complaint spread through the camp.

The upshot has been a succession of poor results, as GB struggled with the difficult adjustment to the demands of life in the top tier of European basketball.

We got to this stage a lot sooner than people thought - we exceeded people's expectations

GB captain Andrew Sullivan

Only in the last week has the news improved, with Mensah-Bonsu belatedly joining the roster. His scoring and rebounding could prove crucial on a team that has struggled this summer.

The team has won only once in nine starts and only scored more than 70 points on one occasion, when they lost 86-84 to Latvia on the opening night in Turkey. Only centre Andy Betts averages more than 10 points per game.

"Scoring's a problem - we're missing a lot of lay-ups inside and we're not shooting the ball particularly well, so if we pass up open shots or take shots, they don't go in," Finch told BBC Sport.

"What we're telling our guys is to be more patient, because if you take poor shots or make poor decisions, things get away from you very quickly at this level."

GB Captain Andrew Sullivan added: "I think we got to this stage a lot sooner than people thought - we exceeded people's expectations.

"We still have to adjust to the teams that we're playing against now."

GB's opponents in Group B will not be helping them out. Spain, the current world champions, proved more than a match for the US Dream Team in last year's Olympic final and Serbia, in the guise of Yugoslavia, have dominated European basketball for most of the last quarter of a century.

Slovenia are the only team they have beaten in nine starts this summer and not surprisingly, the opener is one GB will target in their bid to get through to the second phase.

606: DEBATE

"I really feel like Slovenia is our one chance," said forward Joel Freeland. "They will have all their players coming in, but we already beat them when their NBA guys were playing."

Since that defeat to GB in Seville, Slovenia have retooled and beaten Greece, one of the title favourites in Poland.

"No question - we're putting all our thoughts and energies towards Slovenia now," said assistant coach Nick Nurse. "We've played a heavy, heavy schedule.

"I thought we made some serious improvements with the games against Slovenia and Latvia. Maybe we took a little step back after that."

GB's first objective is to finish in the top three in their group and advance to the second phase in Lodz, where they would play three further games. To do that, they would need to win at least one game in the first three days of competition.

With such a tough draw and the chaotic summer the squad has endured so far, reaching the second phase would be a considerable achievement.


GB final squad: Kieron Achara (age 26, 6ft 10in), Robert Archibald (29, 6ft 11in), Andrew Betts (32, 7ft 1in), Flinder Boyd (29, 5ft 11in), Dan Clark (20, 6ft 11in), Joel Freeland (22, 6ft 11in), Nick George (26, 6ft 6in), Jarret Hart (28, 6ft 5in), Mike Lenzly (28, 6ft 3in), Pops Mensah-Bonsu (25, 6ft 9in), Nate Reinking (35, 6ft 2in), Andrew Sullivan (29, 6ft 8in)



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see also
Pops return strengthens GB hopes
02 Sep 09 |  Basketball
Turkey too strong for weakened GB
29 Aug 09 |  Basketball
GB 'embarrassing' in latest loss
28 Aug 09 |  Basketball
GB gift last-gasp win to Latvia
26 Aug 09 |  Basketball
Great Britain clinch Slovenia win
21 Aug 09 |  Basketball
Lithuania too strong for GB men
20 Aug 09 |  Basketball
GB suffer heavy defeat to Spain
19 Aug 09 |  Basketball
GB positive despite defeats
17 Aug 09 |  Basketball
Wayward GB suffer third reverse
16 Aug 09 |  Basketball
Tough Turkey hand GB second loss
15 Aug 09 |  Basketball
Weakened GB suffer opening defeat
14 Aug 09 |  Basketball
In-depth interview - Luol Deng
12 Aug 09 |  Basketball
GB without star NBA duo for Euros
27 Jul 09 |  Basketball


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