September 17 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Dan Clark insists that his Great Britain side must beat Iceland in their penultimate EuroBasket qualifier or risk missing out on next summer’s finals.
Despite securing their spot for the last three tournaments, Clark and co have a tough ask on their hands this time around after they lost their second consecutive qualifier against Bosnia at the Copper Box Arena in Stratford on Wednesday night.
NBA star Mirza Teletovic of the Brooklyn Nets top-scored with 25 points to inflict an 80-67 reverse on GB, meaning a first home defeat in a qualifying match since 2006.
With only the top team in the three-nation group guaranteed a place at EuroBasket, GB must now win both of their remaining games to have any chance of securing their spot.
Against Bosnia, Great Britain recovered from a slow start to hit a 22-6 run and trail 66-73 with four minutes to go.
But their opponents showed their experience to close out the game and 25-year-old Clark has warned his team that they must focus for the whole game and give everything they have for the win.
“Iceland is a must-win game now if we are to have any chance of qualifying for EuroBasket, which obviously is our goal, so we have to win and we will probably have to win by at least the points difference that they beat us by,” said the Greenwich-born ace.
“It’s a very important game so we have to really focus on beating them and beating them well to put us in a good position for the final game in Bosnia. If we play our game and try to focus on what we’re doing well then I think that’s the way forward for us.
“The game against Bosnia was very tough. They’re a good team, a very well-drilled team and we didn’t get off to a great start which allowed them to get into a rhythm.
“We didn’t really take them out of their rhythm until late in the second-half when we were playing catch-up and it’s always difficult to do that with an experienced team like Bosnia, who know how to handle a situation. It’s disappointing but this is a young group of guys and there’s a lot of room to learn from that.
“It’s great playing at home. The crowd were great and we really appreciate that support.”
Great Britain’s first task will be overcoming Iceland back in the capital again at the Copper Box this Wednesday before making the trip out to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
And Clark believes that with the help of some of the younger players in the squad like Ben Mockford, who impressed against Bosnia, GB can win their remaining games and reach EuroBasket 2015.
“Ben’s been great for us this year. He may not have gotten as many minutes as other guys but just his overall focus is fantastic,” he added.
“When he’s on the bench he’s always cheering his team-mates on and when he’s in the game he’s concentrated and you know that when he comes on he’s going to be ready to play and he demonstrated that against Bosnia.
“With guys like him coming off the bench we’ve always got a good chance. Those guys are key players in this squad, so I’m happy for him, he definitely deserves it, and hopefully he can help us from here on out.”
• Great Britain take on Iceland in their final home qualifier for EuroBasket 2015 later this month. You can book tickets for the game at the Copper Box at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Wednesday 20th August via www.theticketfactory.com or 0844 338 8000.