Jack Majewski speaks to GB player Andrew Lawrence after Team GB’s defeat against Turkey in the European Championships in Lithuania.
JM: You played 2 distinctly different games. Yesterday against Lithuania you gave a very credible performance, you held their scoring to single digits in third quarter and even briefly took the lead. Your defence was in some periods really impressive. Against Turkey it was a completely different story. You were dominated from the very beginning, being beaten in every aspect of the game. Where does this inconsistency come from?
AL: I really don’t know, yesterday we played under a big pressure and we gave a very good performance. We were very patient and we executed very well. We couldn’t replicate these efforts today. We gave Turkey far too many open shots and they beat us on both boards. There is no doubt that Turkey is a very good team.
JM: When I talked to you and some of your teammates at the London 2012 Olympic Test Event all of you agreed that progression from the group stage is your goal in this tournament. You are in a true “group of death”, to progress further you have finish among the top 3 teams. Practically that means that you have to beat Spain tomorrow, how do you feel about this?
AL: They are one of the strongest teams in the world but we have to compete against them. We are definitely very positive about it. We simply have to play our best and see what will happen
JM: During the Olympic test event you had a couple of very close games against top teams like Australia, Croatia and Serbia. You personally and the team, looked very assured. Here in Lithuania things look much worse. What is the reason for that? Does the opposition take these games far more seriously than friendly games?
AL: Again I don’t know and I’m asking myself this question as well .What I can say is that we step on the court ready to compete and we believe that we can win. But then we can’t control the proceedings in decisive moments.
JM: Will this tournament give you much a more realistic assessment of where Team GB really is in terms of challenging the real world or European powerhouses?
AL: Definitely yes. However right now it is difficult to assess where we are. We can have a games like against Australia , Serbia and Lithuania and then lose like today against Turkey. We need to be far more consistent.
JM: That must be a pretty harsh continuation of a very steep learning curve which you started at the\Olympic Test event in London. There you had to face Tony Parker,Milos Teodosic and Marko Popovic. Here you have to play against masters like Jasikevicius , Emir Preldzic and Omer Onan
AL: I like it that way. They are the best in the world and I can learn from them so much. Yesterday Lithuania played with such a passion and determination that was probably the best experience for me.
JM. How would you compare Lithuania and Turkey?
AL: Difficult to say, especially that we didn’t play well against Turkey and made them look much better than they really are. Both teams have world class players and are true powerhouses in Europe.
JM: You played much more in the tournament in London than here. What has changed?
AL: This is a question more to the coaching staff than to me.
JM: During the press conference after the game against Australia ,Chris Finch said that position of point guard will be handled “by the committee” and he doesn’t have a preferred starting point guard. Do you agree with this policy? Or perhaps you are paying a price for it in games lime against Turkey and to the lesser extent against Lithuania?
AL: This is the coaches’ decision and I’m going along with it. Sometimes it is very difficult for us, but we all trying to make a contribution to the team and make the best out of the situation.
JM: Does this heavy defeat against Turkey make GB team stronger or allow some form of self-doubt to creep into your group conscience? How you are going to pick yourself up against Spain?
AL: It is not a question of picking ourselves up. We are completely ready to compete against them. How I said they are one of the best teams in the world but we can’t be scared of them. We definitely need to execute far better and bring back intensity to our defence. We proved that we can stop Lithuania from scoring for a quite a long period of time. Hopefully we can do the same against Spain.
JM: Undeniably, GB has made significant progress in the last years. You had a quite a lot of very “honourable defeats”, yet still you can’t claim scalps of true European powerhouses. When is GB going to learn how to win close games?
AL: We simply don’t have enough experience to do it at the present time. We are lacking consistency and we are far too hot headed in clutch situations. The only way to gain this experience is to play against top world teams as often as possible .Then we can became used to handling such situations successfully.
Photographs courtesy of Mansoor Ahmed Photography