by John Hobbs / @johnswisshobbs
Unlike the over the age of 21 law here, in Great Britain, you can legally drink warm lagers, cold Budweisers or Jack Daniels and Cokes when you’re 18 years old. Something that most youth take full advantage of on most weekends, if they have the money to go with it.
For Great Britain’s newest sensation, Devon Van Oostrum, he prefers to spend his time at the gym and on the basketball practice courts working and perfecting his craft. And the Dutch-born, Sheffield-raised point guard wouldn’t change a thing.
“I’m used to it now,” Van Oostrum says as he sits in the team hotel lobby in Riga, Latvia just before Great Britain headed to Panevezys, Lithuania for EuroBasket. “The last two years I’ve been a pro in Spain. I live and breathe basketball. I work on it for five hours every day.”
Van Oostrum has taken the growing British basketball community by storm with impressive performances, which propelled him to the fan’s first choice for the point guard role, a spot that Great Britain lacked greatly. He first burst on to the scene with this emphatic one-handed slam against Denmark in an U20s game.
Thanks to his solid performances with the U20s, he earned his rightful call-up to the senior squad training camp. Devon has put in hardworking performances, most notably at the recent Olympic Test Event in London, where the youngster hit 9 points, dished out 5 assists and pulled down 3 rebounds in an overtime loss to Australia. This has impressed head coach, Chris Finch enough to maintain his place in the GB roster ahead of their game against the EuroBasket hosts Lithuania at 2 p.m., east coast time.
“It’s a big stage,” Devon admits, speaking about Great Britain’s first encounter against Lithuania. “They’re the hosts; they’re a hell of a team. But this is an opportunity to show what we can do. I think we stand a chance. There will always be upsets.”
He collected a DNP-CD in Great Britian’s 69-80 loss to Lithuania this afternoon, but this experience in the hotbed of world basketball will leave the Caja Laboral player in good stead for next year’s Olympics in London. The boy wonder even set EuroBasket as a target of his earlier in the year.
“I set that out as one of my targets to make the GB team especially with EuroBasket coming up,” he says. “It’s a great opportunity. Coach has given me that.”
If Great Britain manages a successful tournament, then it might be a cause for celebration, and an alcoholic beverage might just pass Devon’s lips when day one of EuroBasket comes to a close.