Kieron Achara could be dropped from Great Britain’s line-up if he can’t bounce back to top form, according to head coach Chris Finch. GB host Macedonia in Newcastle on Sunday in their second European Championship qualifier with both sides looking to maintain their 100% start to the campaign.
However, the Stirling-born forward finds himself in the doghouse after exchanging words with Finch when he was yanked from last Monday’s 91-82 win in Hungary after just three minutes on the court. And he’s been put on notice that his place is no longer automatic.
“Kieron’s been an absolute warrior for us over the past two years," said Finch. "He’s one of our X-Factors. He’s been able to go in and make an impact on games with his hustle. He makes a shot here and there. He plays great defence. But at the moment, he’s just not doing that.
“He’s down on himself. But we need him. We need his experience. We need what he can do for us. It’s a long month of basketball but right now, he’s a little off the pace.”
The Macedonians come into the tie at Northumbrian University buoyant after humiliating the Hungarians 78-44 in mid-week and Finch is aware of their challenge.
"We scout all our opponents live as well as on DVD," he said. "We feel we have a very good handle on them and what they are trying to do. The challenge, as ever, is stopping them. We must take away the strengths of their key players both inside and out."
The GB coach was pleased with his side's display against Hungary, but knows there is still room for improvement: "We executed our stuff well, we guard very well at times and we rebounded consistently. We didn't start the game or the 3rd quarter very well and we didn't take the best shots. We need to improve on all aspects of our game and keep growing as a team to be successful on Sunday as well as in the group.
"We are fully fit and we do not expect any significant changes to our core line-up. We will however need a bit more bench production from a few more guys than we had in Hungary".