Pops hails GB basketball preparations

Pops hails GB basketball preparations
By Eurosport

02/07/2012 at 15:54Updated 02/07/2012 at 15:57

Pops Mensah-Bonsu believes Great Britain's basketball team has never been better prepared for a major tournament - with or without absent NBA star Ben Gordon.

Gordon did not arrive with the team in London yesterday and coach Chris Finch confirmed the player who committed himself to the British cause four years ago, but still hasn't played a match, wouldn't be part of his Olympic plans.

However, Mensah-Bonsu, another player with NBA experience, with the Dallas Mavericks and Toronto Raptors among his former clubs, is not concerned.

Despite the absence of Gordon and Byron Mullens, another NBA player expected to make his debut this summer, Mensah-Bonsu is delighted the core of the team that has played together for the last four years are finally all fit and firing.

Two years ago Chicago Bulls star Luol Deng was sidelined from Britain's EuroBasket campaign and last year Mensah-Bonsu missed the Olympic test event. Other key names, including Rob Archibald and Joel Freeland, have also missed recent international action through injury.

"We aren't going to get consumed by the Ben situation, we still have a pretty good team without him," said Mensah-Bonsu.

"He's a great player and I know he would have adjusted well but we're moving on and worrying about who is here.

"We've never all played together before, at least one of us has been injured or absent, so that is really exciting. I'm really looking forward to Luol coming in this week, it will be interesting to see where we are as a team then."

Without All-Star Deng, Great Britain lost all five of the preparation games in Houston last week against Nigeria, Russia and Lithuania but Mensah-Bonsu believes the right steps are still being taken ahead of their opening match against an unknown opponent on July 29.

"I joined the training camp a little late and I'm still integrating my place after a tough season in Turkey," he added.

"I was disappointed with my play personally against Lithuania, it was a major reason why we couldn't get the job done.

"I shot 50 percent from the free throw line and those stats are unacceptable for a player of my calibre.

"The last two games we had them, we just needed to make the right plays at the right time and that will come."

Great Britain will spend the next few days at Team GB's training camp in Loughborough and will continue their schedule of warm-up games against France this weekend.

"It's starting to hit home how close we are to the Olympics, it's real now," said captain Andrew Sullivan.

"Every year the team gets better and better. Our core groups has been together for four or five years now.

"We really missed Pops last year for the energy and leadership he brings. Having him back firing is like having a whole new player and it's exciting to have our best players all fit and all on the court.

"I don't know the full story with Ben but the players are just focusing on the group that is here. I'm not frustrated by it, we are still going to do the job asked of us."