Friday, 4 September 2009

Joel Freeland - GB friendly results don't count

Joel Freeland reckons Monday’s Eurobasket opener against Slovenia will be vital to Britain’s hopes of plotting a shock exit route through the group of death.
World champions Spain will be favourites to top Group C, if not lift their first European title, after they pushed the USA all the way in the Beijing Olympic final before settling for silver. And although Serbia have only made one European Championship appearance, in 2007, it is Slovenia whom Freeland believes his side must beat.
When the two sides met in a friendly in Seville last month, GB ran out 63-56 victors despite the absences of Freeland, Rob Archibald and Pops Mensah Bonsu. And despite the injury that has robbed them of Sacramento guard Beno Udrih, Freeland knows the tie will be a huge test.
"With it being our first game we will be fresh and won't be tired as if we had two or three games under out belt,” the Malaga forward said. “From the other game I felt we played so well and that is already giving us confidence.
"As long as we give 110% and go all out I feel confident we will win. Beating them the way we did in Spain was a massive boost and it means that we already know we have it in us to win.
"I really feel like Slovenia is our one chance. They will have their players coming in, but we already beat them when their NBA guys were playing.
"If you look at their team they are unbelievable. It's packed with high-level players from NBA and ACB which is why it was incredible how we came together and came up against competition like that and showed professionalism in the game.
"I feel that if we can get that win against Slovenia then it would give us real momentum moving into the next game, even if that is against Spain."
Freeland, who rebuffed a two-year contract with the NBA's Portland Trailblazers earlier this summer, admits it has been a tough build-up for the British side with a 1-8 record in the warm-ups. However he insists all that matters is what lies ahead.
 "Obviously we would love to have results on our side but the main reason we play these games is to get better and try to achieve goals for Poland. I feel comfortable looking at those games we have done wrong in and keep working on what we need to.
"Nothing has been going in our favour much; now most of the guys have been ill. I couldn't play two games in Turkey because of this bug. It's just made it tougher because for all the games we have not had a full squad, but that means Poland will be exciting to see what we can finally do when everyone is fit.
"If teams don't treat us with respect then it will be to our advantage. Any team that acts off us we will jump on them.
"The team is different from year to year but I feel there's definitely more chemistry going into this year to last. Everyone knows everyone and everyone knows the way we each play. We will definitely cause some shocks; we're ready to play that's for sure."

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