England under-16’s captain Carl Wheatle believes his side can go all the way and gain promotion to Division A by winning the Division B European Championships, which begin on Wednesday in Strumica, Macedonia.
Wheatle featured in last year’s squad that achieved a 6th place finish in Sarajevo and feels that this year’s team can return England to Division A, from which they were relegated in 2012.
“I think we have a really good team this year,” he said. “We can definitely come back with a medal and there’s no reason why it can’t be gold because we’re good enough to win it all.”
“There’s a good vibe around the camp and we’ve gained a lot of confidence from beating Croatia and Hungary in games that tested us.
The London-born forward plays his club basketball overseas in Italy with Biella and is one of three players in the squad that played last summer. Wheatle averaged 6.6 points per game and 6.8 rebounds in the 2013 campaign and feels that the experience gained will stand him in good stead.
“The experience from last year will definitely help,” he admitted. “It will help in game situations and with my overall leadership as I know what it’s like to play in the Euros.”
Wheatle has been a key scorer for England over the summer so far and is embracing his role on the team. He’s also relishing the responsibility of being captain and has called on his side to be more consistent if they are to go all the way in Macedonia.
“I really enjoy my role on the team. I’m looking to be aggressive and score the ball and my team-mates look for me to do that. Being the captain is great and I think I’m a good leader and have the respect of my team-mates. I have good relationships with everyone and the fact we all get on is really important.
“Our athleticism as a team is very good, we have great defence and get runs on teams. Our decision making has improved and now we just have to make sure we sustain the good periods and be more consistent.
Head Coach Alan Keane is making the step up this year having been Andreas Kapoulas’ assistant last summer and his side are currently preparing for their tournament opener against Scotland tomorrow.
Image credit: Abdul Kassim Photography