Jack Majewski speaks to GB player Dan Clark during the European Championships in Lithuania.
JM: You have already played more than half of your group games. Three very difficult opponents, three defeats, but also three very different games. How would you sum up this tournament so far?
DC: We had a very tough schedule, and we played against 3 of the top teams in the world. Obviously these teams have far more experience and they know what to do at crunch time. Probably they had the extra bit of experience which we were lacking in these games. We played well in stretches but we couldn’t maintain it for whole games. That’s really a shame because games could have been much closer, however unfortunately it wasn’t the case.
JM: In London we had a conversation about young players holding backcourt for GB. Both of us agreed that it was very commendable on Chris Finch’s part to bring such young players to the GB squad; however in Lithuania you seemed to pay the price for it. Your backcourt had a really tough time against Lithuania, Turkey and Spain, teams which fielded players who have performed on this stage for years.
DC: That could be the case, we are very young at that position but we can’t put the whole blame on one position. We certainly didn’t lose these games just because of our backcourt; we lost it as a team. It is a massive learning curve for the entire team; we have players who are at very different stages of their career. With time we will be more experienced and will be much better prepared for next year.
JM: From your personal perspective, how successful was this tournament for you so far?
DC: From my point of view not very successful, we have not won a game so far. The whole point on this level is to win games, if you are not winning, certainly you are not successful. Our goal was to qualify to the next stage and it’s extremely unlikely that we will achieve that. We have two games left and we need to win them to leave this place on more positive note.
JM: Your qualification group seems to be very polarised. There are three teams which are absolutely the cream of world basketball and three teams which are considerably weaker. Where is Team GB in this hierarchy and how can you improve your standings during the time leading to the Olympic Games?
DC: We need to start winning against top teams on a stage like the European Championships .Playing more competitions like Eurobasket will improve our ranking and improve people’s perception about us. People are still unsure about us because they don’t know what we can do. We can have very close games against leading world teams but we still don’t know how to win them.
JM: Do you think that the remaining 11 months to the Olympic games will give you sufficient time to build the team to improve to the stage when you can change” honourable defeats” into actual victories? Or is strengthening the squad an absolutely priority, for instance Ben Gordon’s inclusion would improve you as a team considerably.
DC: That can be achieved in either way. Of course brining more experienced players like Gordon would make us a much stronger team. But I also believe that our current players can improve considerably, we will be much stronger team next year.
JM: Could you shed some light on situation with Robert Archibald? His absence hurt you considerably.
DC: He is ready to play today. He caught something after the last training before the game against Lithuania. It was quite a shock for the entire team but he is ready to play now.
Photographs courtesy of Mansoor Ahmed Photography