Jack Majewski speaks to GB player Pops Mensah Bonsu after the London 2012 International Basketball Invitational Test Event in preparation for their performance in the European Championships in Lithuania.
JM: Pops let’s start from your current state of health. It must absolutely excruciating for you to be side-lined in a such a crucial moment for the GB team. You are one of the key players and the team will have to manage without you at the European Championship.
PMB: How you said it is very difficult for me to see our team playing against the world’s top teams without me. Especially bearing in mind that it’s happening in my home town. I just console myself that there is a bigger picture, next year’s Olympics. That is our ultimate goal and I must be ready for it. I have to absolutely concentrate on my rehab right now and I’m not in position to take any risks. Missing the Olympics would be unbearable.
JM: Future Stars is an organisation working with very young, aspiring athletes from all over the World. Let switch our focus to the new exciting wave of young players in the GB squad. Chris Finch takes a very brave and commendable decision to go with a very young and inexperienced backcourt of Andrew Lorenz, Devon van Oostrum and Ogo Odegboye. Nobody can deny their immense talent, but will they be ready to lead the GB team at an Olympic tournament?
PBM: This is a very good question. I agree that this decision is very commendable, but these guys really deserve to be here. We are not talking about our future here; we are talking very much about present time. Three of them were our best guards at the preparation camp and earned their place in the team. Of course we need to see how they perform on the international scene, but we will see that very soon .The European Championship will be the first very important test of their credentials. I’m sure that experience from the tournament in Lithuania will benefit them next year at the Olympics.
JM. Even taking into consideration the rapid ascent of young guards, the GB team may look quite unbalanced where the main power comes from the frontline of Archibald, Joel Freeland ,Dan Clark and yourself. Of course Loul may help with supplying some fireworks from the perimeter but is that enough to be really successful?
PMB: I disagree with that completely. First of all the possible future presence of Ben Gordon may change the situation with our backcourt dramatically. Secondly I think that we have a very well rounded team which can be very successful in the near future. We have scorers, strong inside presence and people who can scarify their own glory for the success of the team. I think a team which among others consist of Deng, Gordon, Freeland and hopefully myself has got all the ingredients to surprise a lot of people.
JM: Would you agree that GB Basketball has created a sea of change in the perception of the National team among young players? All of a sudden very young players are an integral part of the team and certainly can claim ownership of future success. These youngsters led by not so much older “veterans” like yourself and Loul have a historic chance of bringing basketball to the mainstream of sporting public in the UK.
PMB: Definitely yes. We are very excited about the opportunity of playing in the biggest sporting event on the planet in front of the home crowd. That is a great chance of presenting basketball to the mass public and making some of our player’s household names in this country.
JM: Switching back to you .What are your plans for the next season? Obviously rehab is the most imminent concern but I’m sure that finding the right club for entire season is absolutely crucial.
PMB: The choice of the club will determine how well prepared I am for the Olympics, so it is something which I’m taking very seriously. However at this moment I’m fully concentrating on returning to full health .I simply need to be in the shape of my life. Then I will switch my attention to signing a contract for next season but that definitely needs to be a Euroleague outfit.
Photographs courtesy of Mansoor Ahmed Photography