'This is our time' - Team GB basketball captain Dan Clark targets 2023 World Cup qualification

GB Basketball have a ‘chip on the shoulder’ and want to prove the doubters wrong this week as their 2023 World Cup qualification campaign begins, says captain Dan Clark.

The skipper is confident his side can take their Eurobasket form into a tough opening double header against European giants Greece and Turkey.

The opening window of the tournament due to take place in Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines, is unquestionably a difficult one for the often unfancied side.

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But with Belarus completing Group B, a victory - starting at home on Thursday - will go a long way to achieving their first finals appearance.

Dan Clark. Copyright: (Manchester Giants)

“Yeah 100%, that’s (reaching the finals) the objective. We want to be in the World Cup next year,” Clark, 33, said.

“People haven’t generally spoken very well about the British Men’s team in the past so we’ve got that bit of a chip on our shoulder and we’re looking to prove some people wrong. The general feeling around the group is that this is our time now.”

That optimism stems from the last round of Eurobasket qualification last February.

Needing wins in their final two group games to qualify for next Autumn’s pan European competition, GB narrowly beat Germany in the first before demolishing the Tokyo 2020 finalists France, albeit with a much changed side.

“A lot of us have played together for a long time so we kind of know the ins and outs,” he said. "These windows are a bit different as you don’t have a lot of time to prepare, you don’t really know what to expect from each team. But as we proved over the past few windows we’re more than ready for this type of test.

“I’m really looking forward to the game in Newcastle especially, and then we have what I think’s going to be an amazing atmosphere in Turkey to look forward to next Sunday.”

Domestically, Clark has enjoyed a good start to the season since making his high profile move to the Manchester Giants in the summer.

The reinvigorated organisation sit top of the BBL league standings and advanced to the Semi-finals of the Cup, but Clark believes there’s much more to come from the side. He said: “One of the main things to take into consideration at this point in the year is that we’ve got a bit of a target on our back.

“Jamie [Edwards, Owner] and Lloyd [Gardner, Head Coach] have done a great job recruiting and we’ve got a good team together and people are aware of that. Especially over the last month, we haven’t played particularly well but we’ve been able to win games, which is a good sign.

“Obviously it shows we can improve a lot but at the same time it’s made us very aware that we’re not going to have any easy games this year.”

Professional basketball player by day and a postgraduate student by night, Clark has been surprised by the quality on display since his arrival in the league.

That comes from a man who, until this summer, spent the entirety of his professional career in one of the game’s most acclaimed leagues, playing against some of it’s biggest stars.

Luka Doncic was chief among them. He rose to prominence at city rivals Real Madrid when Clark was at CB Estudiantes, now Movistar Estudiantes.

He added: “There are some very good players, I just think there are a lot of players that haven’t really been coached to the level that they need to be, to be able to understand basketball at an elite level.

“I think that’s the main difference between players in the BBL and players in Europe or in elite leagues around the world. Here there’s loads and loads of talent, physically, tactically and technically but it’s just combining that with the general knowledge of basketball to get the most out of your game.

“You see guys in the BBL do things and you’re like ‘Oh wow, that’s pretty amazing what you’ve just done mate’ but I’m not sure they’re aware of how good they are or what they can or can’t do.”

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