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GB forward Myles Hesson remains confident of qualification for next year’s EuroBasket despite suffering back-to-back defeats at the weekend in their opening preparation games.
Latvia followed up an opening 77-73 triumph with another close-fought success 24 hours later, winning 76-68. And Hesson believes there are still positives to take given the lack of time spent together at camp so far.
He told Hoopsfix: “Losing by such close margins in both games was obviously disappointing. They made more plays down the stretch than us but we’ve only been together for a short while and I feel that we are on the right track.”
Hesson earned a starting role in the second game of the weekend double-header after contributing 15 points and six rebounds from the bench in Saturday’s opener.
“It’s always a great experience representing your country, and it was great getting the start in the second game playing in what is like a local arena to me with family and friends watching.”
The current squad features ten of the final 12 that competed in last year’s EuroBasket campaign. Hesson grabbed his first opportunity with the senior mens team with both hands last summer and was one of the emerging stars during the tournament.
The 24-year-old starred in victories over Israel and Germany and he believes his experience has made the transition easier 12 months on.
“I’m definitely more comfortable this time around,” he admitted. “I’ve been here before so I know the ropes and what is expected of me. The pressure is always the same because you want to do the best you can for GB.
The absences of NBA stars Luol Deng, Joel Freeland and Byron Mullens has been well documented but there is still plenty of experience amongst the camp, most notably with the presence of co-captains Drew Sullivan and Keiron Achara.
The squad is embracing the role of underdogs, especially the younger players who are determined to make the most of their opportunity and prove themselves at the highest level.
“Everyone has an open chance because nobody has that NBA experience and everyone wants to prove themselves,” Hesson said. “The mood is always positive in camp because and there’s a lot of young guys who are hungry to do well.”
He added: “It’s important that we come together as a team and there are still guys with lots of experience that we can learn a lot from and they keep you level-headed.”
The next step forward for GB are two friendlies against Belgium this weekend and the squad has been boosted by the arrival of Matthew Bryan-Amaning.
Head-coach Joe Prunty will then get one final look at his side in a weekend tournament in Tbilisi against Belarus, hosts Georgia and Moldova before the serious tests against Bosnia and Iceland. And Hesson insists that GB can achieve qualification if they play at their full potential.
He said: “We have to play as a team and play hard for the whole 40 minutes. We believe in ourselves and know we have a very good chance of qualifying if we play to our abilities. For me personally, I want to cut down on my turnovers and make sure I stay focused at all times.”
Hesson has not yet sorted out a contract for next season and the extra exposure on the international scene may help land an improved deal having spent the last two seasons in Germany. Last season, he impressed in the German Pro-A division with Giessen 46ers to continue the rise in his professional career which began with the now-defunct Essex Pirates back in 2010.
The sole focus for now is to continue preparations for the important clashes with Iceland and Bosnia as Hesson stakes his claim for a place in Prunty’s starting five.
Watch ‘Air Myles’ take flight below with these two huge dunks against Latvia:
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