Dan Clark admits that his preparations for the EuroBasket qualification campaign against Iceland and Bosnia have been far from ideal, but the Great Britain centre is determined to put his injury woes behind him and help his country reach their fourth straight finals next summer.
Dan Clark to bounce back from injury for EuroBasket
Clark has been confirmed in the GB squad for the qualifiers, which includes five survivors of the 2012 Olympic Games squad and eight from last year's appearance at EuroBasket 2013. The 25 year-old from Greenwich was GB's leading scorer in Slovenia last year. So it was encouraging to see six GB players reach double digits in scoring during GB's final preparation game over Moldova, while Clark played less than 14 minutes on the bench while being rested.
Prior to joining the GB camp, Clark missed almost the entire club season with a knee injury but recovered in time for GB's preparation games against Latvia and Belgium during July. He's now set to win his 65th cap in Reyjkavik in tonight's opening qualifier against Iceland. Clark - whose parents and sister Ella have all represented their country as well - is determined to prove that he still has what it takes to compete at the highest level.
"Obviously I've had a few problems with injuries this year so it was good to get back on the court and prove to myself that I could still play," said Clark, who was part of the Team GB squad that competed at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
"At the minute I'm being careful and managing my minutes just to make sure that I'm ready for the EuroBasket qualifiers. I don't feel too rusty, I'm actually feeling pretty good, so hopefully I can build on that and make an impact against Iceland and Bosnia.
"It has been frustrating to have been sat on the sidelines for so long this year, but that is part of the trade with professional sport and you've just got to deal with it and get mentally and physically better which is what I think I've done this year."
For 6'10 Clark, wins against Iceland and Bosnia would see him compete in his fourth straight EuroBasket Finals. He made his debut in the competition in 2009 and also represented GB in Lithuania in 2011 and Slovenia in 2013.
With his sights now firmly set on helping GB to secure their spot next year, Clark insists that the team has more than enough talent to qualify for the tournament.
"The mood in the camp has been great so far and preparations have been going well. We didn't have a lot of time to prepare for the games against Latvia or Belgium but some of the young guys learned what it was like to play international basketball and got to see the physicality and speed of the game which is a big learning process," he added.
"I think that we can definitely beat Iceland and Bosnia. We would be very disappointed as a group and as a nation if we didn't qualify for EuroBasket next year so I'm 100 per cent sure that we can do that.
"We're in a strong position to go through. We've qualified for the last three so we'll be one of the favourites to progress this year and we want to take that confidence into the games.
"Qualification is a big deal. Everyone knows about the funding situation with basketball in the country, there's a battle going on behind the scenes but the only thing that we can do as players is qualify for EuroBasket and let the board members take care of the funding."
Great Britain take on Iceland in Reyjkavik in their opening game later today, but they face Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iceland on successive Wednesdays at the Copper Box (Wednesday 13th August and Wednesday 20th August). It's not too late to book your place to watch Dan and the rest of the GB squad - you can find the details here.