Ogo Adegboye has thanked his fellow guards for steering him to a surprise place in Great Britain’s line-up, even though it has left his rivals out in the cold.
The rookie point guard, who is about to begin his senior season at St. Bonaventure University in New York, is expected to keep his starting role when GB meet Macedonia in Newcastle on Sunday in the second tie of their Eurobasket qualifying campaign.
The 22-year-old overcame early foul trouble that limited him to 18 minutes in last Monday’s 91-82 win over Hungary, holding his nerve to make four critical free throws in the closing minutes and earning praise from head coach Chris Finch for his performance in his first competitive international. And he admits that the support from within the GB backcourt ranks has smoothed his path.
“They’ve been giving me advice on how to keep pushing myself and keep on working hard,” said the Londoner. “We all bust a gut at practice but off the court, they’re like brothers. In games they advise you and keep you calm and that’s been really helpful.
“Basketball is a mental game. It translates to the physical. I’ve become tougher and got much more knowledge about the game, more than I had before. I’ve had to adjust from the American game to the European game. And the process has really pushed up my basketball IQ.”
The newcomer is part of Britain’s Brixton enclave, which also includes Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng and Adegboye’s fellow first-timer Matthew Bryan-Amaning. And the bond between the trio has provided the playmaker with a huge lift.
“It’s so great,” he declared. “They’re like my brothers. They are my brothers. It’s fun to be with them and it’s encouraged me. It’s made it easier because they have my back on and off the court.”
Meanwhile skipper Drew Sullivan, who could equal Bill McInnes’ long-standing GB caps record if he makes his 49th appearance for the national side, is hoping for a full house in the first major fixture at Northumbria University’s new 3000-seater venue.
“I’ve been telling them to come and play in Newcastle for years so it would be great if we pack it out,” he said.