Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us »
Ex Essex Pirates Tim Lewis coach is given key role in GB basketball team
FORMER Essex Pirates head coach Tim Lewis cannot wait to work with some of the world’s very best basketball players at this summer’s Olympic Games.
Lewis, who spent two years in Southend running the Pirates, will be Britain’s video analyst at the sporting bonanza in London.
And that role will include working closely with Chicago Bulls superstar Luol Deng and New Orleans Hornets centre Pops Mensa-Bonsu, who are both key members of the British side.
“I’ve known Luol since he was about 12 and he’s always been a privilege to work with,” said Lewis.
“He’s the same now as he was back then and the success he’s achieved hasn’t changed him at all.
“The way he conducts himself in training and in matches is spot on.
“He sets a good example but it’s also a real pleasure to work with Pops and the rest of the players and coaches.”
During the Olympics, Lewis will be studying recordings of matches and training sessions to identify possible improvements the team can make.
And Lewis admitted he was honoured to be playing a part in the Games.
“I think the last time we had a basketball team at the Olympics until now was 1948 so I feel incredibly lucky,” said Lewis, 44.
“The fact that it’s in London makes it extra special and we’re all really looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd.”
Britain start their Olympic campaign on Sunday July 29 against a qualifying team who have yet to be confirmed.
They then take on Brazil, Spain, who are ranked second in the world, Australia and China in quick succession.
But Lewis remains confident of securing success, despite the side having a mixed build-up to the Games.
“I still think we’ve made giant strides forward and are improving all the time,” said Lewis, who has been involved with the GB coaching set up since the squad was first formed six years ago.
“Our first target is to get through the group and if we do there’s a chance we could play America in the quarter finals which really would be something special.”
In the build up to the Games, Lewis also got to work with one of his former Essex Pirates players as Myles Hesson was called up to the team’s training camp in Houston.
Hesson failed to make the final 12 man squad, but Lewis feels the youngster’s progression proves his work with Pirates was not wasted.
‘What we were trying to achieve with the Pirates was the right thing and that’s shown by Myles and the other young players who have had success since we stopped playing last summer,” said Lewis.
‘Three other players have also had international call ups at different levels since then and it shows what we did worked.
“It was just a shame that the finances couldn’t be sorted because that’s what stopped us carrying on. “But it’s great to see some of our old players doing well and, from my own point of view, I’m so excited to now be involved with the Olympics.”