By Dimitris Kontos
|13. Daniel Clark (Great Britain)|
"So, what did we get?" Great Britain forward Daniel Clark asked as he stepped out of the Asefa Estudiantes locker room in Malaga on Sunday night.
Like many of the players that will be the protagonists of EuroBasket 2013, the 24-year-old Brit was in action at the same time the Draw was taking place in Slovenia and could not afford the luxury of watching it live.
Clark helped Estudiantes take an 85-74 road win at Unicaja in the Spanish Liga Endesa but he switches instantly to national-team-mode the moment the word EuroBasket is mentioned.
He processes the names in his mind for a couple of seconds.
"Oh, it's better than normal, normally we get a very tough group," he says with contained relief and a smile.
"France are obviously a very good team but apart from that I think the [rest of] teams are beatable.
"I mean these three teams (he points to Ukraine, Belgium and Israel), we've already played them in other competitions and we've beat them.
"Germany is a bit of an unknown to us but obviously they have a good team, they've played in big competitions and have lots of experience.
"It will be an interesting group I think, it's very competitive, there's a lot of teams that can make some surprises."
So is Great Britain going to get out of this group?
"Oh yeah, of course," he laughs.
LIFE AFTER THE OLYMPICS
Clark picked up an injury in July from which he has not fully recovered yet, but summer for him was only about one thing: Playing with Great Britain at the Olympics, in his native London.
He describes the experience as 'amazing', 'unbelievable', 'unforgettable'.
There is disappointment that Great Britain did not get the results they wanted in front of their own audience but, if anything, this has made the British forward more hungry for success in Slovenia in September.
"I think we have to build on that, we have to take advantage of being at the Olympics, we didn't have to qualify for the EuroBasket as other teams had to do," he explains.
"Every year we get better as a team, at the Olympics we were very close to beating some good teams and we just need the extra step to get some wins.
|Daniel Clark is confident Great Britain can get the wins they need to advance at the EuroBasket 2013|
"Now would be the perfect opportunity to do so."
There are those who fear British basketball was exclusively focused on the London Games and with the big event over, its progress might derail.
Clark however dismisses any notion that the players might lose their desire to play with the national team now that the goal has been accomplished.
"I think in other national teams it might do [decrease their motivation] but in our case we're so relatively new and we got so much yet to prove," he states.
"Every year we have to try and prove ourselves."
There is never a moment's doubt that Clark regards the summer of 2012 as a starting point, rather than the end of a road for Great Britain.
"A lot of people were not happy with our inclusion in the Olympics, there was a few complaints because they didn't think we deserved it," the forward admits.
"But I think once we got there we showed we can play on that level and we have to build on that year on year.
"And eventually, we can beat some of these better teams in Europe."