Dan Clark admits his preparations for the upcoming EuroBasket qualification matches have been far from ideal, but the centre is determined to put his injury woes behind him and help Great Britain’s men reach their fourth-straight finals next summer.
The 25-year-old has missed almost the entire season with a knee injury but recovered in time to take to the court for GB’s friendly matches against Latvia and Belgium last month.
And now having returned from injury, Clark, who is currently a free agent, is determined to prove that he has what it takes to compete at the highest level with EuroBasket qualifiers with Iceland and Bosnia fast approaching.
“Obviously I’ve had a few problems with injuries this year so it was good to get back on the court and prove to myself that I could still play,” said Clark, who was part of the Team GB squad that competed at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“At the minute I’m being careful and managing my minutes just to make sure that I’m ready for the EuroBasket qualifiers. I don’t feel too rusty; I’m actually feeling pretty good, so hopefully I can build on that and make an impact against Iceland and Bosnia.
“It has been frustrating to have been sat on the sidelines for so long this year, but that is part of the trade with professional sport and you’ve just got to deal with it and get mentally and physically better which is what I think I’ve done this year.”
For 6ft11in Clark, wins against Iceland and Bosnia would see the towering forward compete in his fourth-straight EuroBasket, having made his debut in the competition in 2009 and also represented GB in Lithuania in 2011 and Slovenia in 2013.
And with his sights now firmly set on helping GB to secure their spot in Ukraine next year, Clark insists that the team has more than enough talent to qualify for the tournament.
“The mood in the camp has been great so far and preparations have been going well. We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for the games against Latvia or Belgium but some of the young guys learned what it was like to play international basketball and got to see the physicality and speed of the game which is a big learning process,” he added.
“I think that we can definitely beat Iceland and Bosnia. We would be very disappointed as a group and as a nation if we didn’t qualify for EuroBasket next year so I’m 100 per cent sure that we can do that.
“We’re in a strong position to go through. We’ve qualified for the last three so we’ll be one of the favourites to progress this year and we want to take that confidence into the games.
“Qualification is a big deal. Everyone knows about the funding situation with basketball in the country, there’s a battle going on behind the scenes but the only thing that we can do as players is qualify for EuroBasket and let the board members take care of the funding.”
© Sportsbeat 2014