New Standard Life GB Men’s Head Coach Joe Prunty has confirmed he is chasing Ben Gordon, as he looks to put together the best team possible for Eurobasket 2013, which tips off September 4th.
“We’re in constant contact as much as possible with all the players that we’re trying to get, so I don’t want to focus specifically on Ben but he is definitely somebody we would like to have involved in the programme,” said the former Cleveland Cavaliers assistant coach, when speaking to British media in a conference call this week. “Each year you’re trying to build your team which is going to revolve around several situations; what they’ve done in the past usually makes an impact but you have to ask, are they healthy, what’s their time commitment, what’s their contract situation? All those things matter and Ben will be considered with that along with all the others.”
Asked why he thinks Gordon, who British Basketball, to no avail, have spent money and time pursuing over the past 5 years, is still worth pursuing, Prunty continued:
“Again, you’re always looking at trying to establish the best team available, if one year doesn’t work for a particular reason I don’t think you can totally disregard it and say ok we’ll not go down that avenue. I’ll reemphasise, you don’t know what the situations are with each guy each year, so reviewing it is always well worth it just to see if there’s an opportunity to make the team the best it possibly can be.”
Gordon has cited various reasons over the years for not suiting up; fatigue, surgery, rehab and the birth of a child, and despite being a no-show at the Olympic training camp in Houston last summer, remains on GB’s radar.
“This year may be a different opportunity for him [Ben Gordon], the timing might be better,” added Prunty. “I know the London Olympics are important, arguably the most important event at that time, but now in 2013 with EuroBasket, we need to make this Standard Life GB team the best that it has been and then the following years we want to make that the best team that it can be. Each year we’re going to grow and build this team.”
Prunty remained tight lipped about who may or may not have committed to the programme this summer, with training camp expected to open during the first week of August, but it is expected the GB roster fielded at Eurobasket 2013 will be vastly different from the one that represented at the London 2012 Olympics.
Luol Deng is one player who’s considered a major doubt for the tournament, stating in February that he is “most likely not” playing, needing a well deserved rest after the rigours of playing in an Olympics and then straight into an 80 game NBA season.
“With the parties involved, myself, Luol and his people, there has been contact and we’ll work through that situation specifically to him and how he will be involved. There’s nothing you can’t say about how great Luol has been, not only for GB basketball but for basketball in general, so exactly how his situation will play out will be determined,” Prunty said when asked about Luol.
“The priorities this year will be to have the best EuroBasket we can possibly have and to play as well as we can, to win games, to come out of the gate trying to win games.”
With the current funding situation still relying upon GB’s performance at EuroBasket there is clearly a lot of pressure on the team’s performance and having been given their best draw yet for the European Championships, there is even more weight being put onto the shoulders of the newly appointed coach. He insists he will not let that get in the way of their focus.
“We can’t control that [the funding] but what we can control is what we do on the floor. How hard we play, how well we communicate, how well we share the ball; we can control what we do on the basketball court.
“The important part for us is to go out and play as well as we can and then the rest of the things will take care of themselves.”
The NBA assistant of 17 years has received some criticism for his lack of international experience, but said he remains undaunted and up to the challenge.
“It will be a learning curve, for sure, just in terms of being part of this and coaching the team,” he said. “It is my first year with the team, but I’ve been tremendously blessed to have been around numerous international coaches and players.
“Players that I’ve been able to be a part of coaching with the teams I’ve been with, over the years I have spoken with these people and how important this [international game] is to them. From a coaching stand point, having worked with people like Del Harris, Nate McMillan, Brett Brown and Chris Finch is obviously somebody that is a valued speaker, so there are numerous people that I have either worked with or spoken with that can help me with that.
“When we open up against Israel we will have a good idea about who is going to be playing for them, we know they will be very good but we’ll have to be prepared to play that game and the next night against France. Every night of Eurobasket we will have to be very well prepared.”
Before EuroBasket the Standard Life GB Men’s team face Puerto Rico in a friendly encounter on August 11th, after the re-opening of the Olympic Park. It will be the first time GB fans will get a chance to see the team on home soil since the Olympics.
“We’re really excited; this is all very exciting…there’s no doubt that it will be a great way to get us on our way.”
Tickets are available from the Ticket Factory for GB vs Puerto Rico, ranging from £15 for children to £35 for premium adult tickets – use the code GBHOOPS you can get a 25% discount.