GREAT Britain basketball head coach Chris Finch admitted it was a tough decision to leave out talented Sheffield youngster Devon Van Oostrum from his Olympic Games squad.
Finch, who is a former player and head coach of Sheffield Sharks, named his final roster for London on Thursday but there was no spot for 19-year-old Van Oostrum.
It was a surprise to many observers, who throught that Van Oostrum would be included in the squad for his playmaking ability and also to give him the experience of an Olympic Games.
But Finch said Van Oostrum didn’t quite fit in with how he wanted to make up his team.
“Devon is certainly one of the brightest sparks both in the future and now,” he said.
“He has the potential to be a lynchpin of this squad for years to come. We felt at this point that we might play Kieron Achara and Dan Clark at the three (small forward) position, which shifted our line-up a bit. Last year we played quite a small line up, but we’ve opted to go with a bigger more experienced squad this year. It came down to a choice between players who were all quite similar and we decided that Devon just didn’t quite fit.”
Former Silverdale School student Van Oostrum, who plays his club basketball with Spanish Premier League side Caja Laboral, has now joined the Great Britain under-20 squad for their attempt at winning promotion from Division B of the European Championship in Bulgaria.
Finch, aged 42, leads his team into action against France this evening in Orleans before taking on one of the favourites for Olympic gold, Spain, in Valladollid on Monday. After a training camp in Texas which yielded five straight defeats Finch said it’s vital for his team to start to find its winning identity.
“The important part is developing a rhythm now that we’re together,” he said. “We’ve been losing games down the stretch and the worrying thing is that we did that last year. It’s part of the learning and growing experience.”
Great Britain open their Olympic campaign against an as-yet-undecided qualifier on July 29. Finch’s side face a tough task of qualifying in the top four of a group that - in addition to world number two Spain - contains Australia (ninth), China (10th) and Brazil (13th).
Before the Games start the men’s and women’s teams are playing a series of matches in Sheffield over the weekend of July 13 to 15. The men will play Portugal twice and the women take on Angola, Australia and France.
n For tickets to the Standard Life Game On Sheffield tournament visit www.gbbasketball.com/tickets