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Bristol Flyers head-coach Andreas Kapoulas is looking forward to the challenge of the BBL after helping guide the GB under 20’s to an 11th place finish at the recent European Championships.
Kapoulas labelled the efforts as a ‘fantastic achievement’ as the U20s returned from Crete with their heads held high. GB battled injuries as well as some top European powerhouses but managed to hold their own with some fantastic performances.
“It was a great experience,” the U20 assistant concluded. “The whole preparation and European Championships were great. It was a real pleasure to work with Douglas Leichner and James Vear and I’m very proud of how the players performed.”
He added: “I think we gained the respect of all of Division A. It was fantastic to beat three very traditional basketball powers and having the opportunity to reach the quarter-finals is very respectable. The Greece game will always be remembered but there are lots of lasting memories because it was such a great experience throughout.”
The future for GB is really promising, no question. To be able to compete at the highest level, even with players missing, is a sign of things to come. Hopefully UK Sport and other people who make important decisions will start to take that into consideration,” he said, referring to UK Sport’s complete withdrawal of funding from the British Basketball programme earlier this year.
Upon his return from Crete, his focus turns to the forthcoming BBL season as the Flyers prepare to make their debut. ‘And the experienced gained this summer with the GB U20 programme will no doubt help with his transition to coaching in the BBL for the first time.
“It was a great experience for me,” he said. “Getting to work with great coaches will help improve my coaching as will going up against top opposition. I’m really looking forward to coaching at the highest level and being in the BBL is a great thing for the city of Bristol.”
The first five players on the roster were announced on Tuesday with the returning quartet of Greg Streete, Roy Owen, Jordan Ranklin and Doug McLaughlin-Williams joined by new addition Doug Herring Jr from the Canadian NBL.
The Flyers play-caller stated: “Bringing back the core of the team was very important. They have been together for a long time and that has been the secret of our success. And then Doug Herring is a high-level player, who I believe will fit well into our system. He’s definitely one of the players to watch in the BBL this season.”
Kapoulas revealed that Bristol are ‘very close’ to announcing another import whilst they are considering targeting another main addition to fill the 4/5 spot.
Players in the academy will be given a chance to earn minutes in the first team although the return of one of Bristol’s two current England under-18 internationals is in doubt.
“Dean Williams will be returning but Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye is considering options in the States,” Kapoulas confirmed. “However, if nothing works out then he will be back for us this season. The link with SGS Academy is very important to us as it is the junior pathway for the opportunity to play at the top level. This is the philosophy of the team and guys like Tamas Okros will get the chance of playing more minutes in the BBL.”
The past record of new teams hasn’t been promising but there is hope that Bristol and fellow newcomers Leeds will be able to compete on-and-off the court, in large due to key partnerships that promote player development.
As far as the first season goes, Kapoulas is not setting any targets to reach the playoffs or a certain position, the message is to just try and win as many games as possible.
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