British coach Chris Finch calls for star trio to commit
By Chris Mitchell
BBC World Service in Dallas
Finch beat GB assistant Nurse in Saturday's NBA D-League all-star game
Great Britain head coach Chris Finch has urged the nation's top stars to commit to the team this summer.
Finch said it was vital the best players were available for August's eight Eurobasket 2011 qualifying games.
He singled out CSKA Moscow's Pops Mensah-Bonsu and the NBA stars Ben Gordon and Luol Deng.
"We've got to get 100% commitment from our top players this summer. We need our best players and that's Luol, Ben and Pops," Finch told the BBC.
Deng had to sit out last years' European Championships in Poland because he was injured.
This summer's tougher than ever because the competition's moved up into the summer calendar
Mensah-Bonsu arrived late and Gordon opted not to come.
GB failed to win any of their three group games, although all three of their opponents went on to reach the semi-finals.
Finch said he believed Detroit star Gordon, who was born in London but has yet to play for GB, would have appeared last year had his former Chicago team-mate Deng been around to help him get used to the new situation.
Finch was speaking at the NBA All-Star weekend in Dallas, where he was one of the coaches in Saturday's NBA Development League game.
Finch left Belgium for the NBA's D-League last year after his GB assistant Nick Nurse suggested it would improve his game.
Finch says the move has worked and fans can expect to see something new from him this summer.
''I was always too conservative. I am more of a practice coach, a preparation coach. I like the routine European basketball had playing twice a week.
"But Nick was right. He said it would help my game and it has.
"I feel much more comfortable in game situations than before. I was a little reluctant to do or try things but now I realise there's nothing to lose.''
Finch emerged victorious from the D-League All Star game on Saturday after his West Conference team beat Nurse's Eastern All-Stars 98 - 81 at the Dallas Convention Centre.
Finch and Nurse met British Basketball's senior management this weekend to draw up a schedule for the summer, which should be finalised in the next couple of weeks.
Finch hopes the squad will meet up at least two weeks before their first against Hungary on 2 August, although he admits that might prove difficult.
"This summer's tougher than ever because the competition's moved up into the summer calendar.
"It's going to affect our guys off-seasons. It's going to limit the time we have with them before we start playing."
GB must also play Macedonia, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Ukraine on a home-and-away basis in August.
With a committed squad - including the stars - and a well thought-out training schedule, Finch believes GB have a good chance to make it to Eurobasket 2011 but he warned against complacency.
"The biggest thing we need to guard against is we can't have a sense of entitlement that we were there last summer," he added.
"We've got to go out and prove ourselves all over again."
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