Nate Reinking says he will have to lock away the emotion of completing his long journey to the Olympics in order to stay focussed on the job at hand.
The 38-year-old arrives at London 2012 via Ohio – where he was born – Belgium and two stints with the Sheffield Sharks.
Comfortably the oldest player in the 12-man Great Britain basketball team, Reinking has been kept young by NBA superstar Loul Deng and the country’s emerging prospects. But having been involved in British basketball since 1996, and a member of the Team GB squad since its inauguration 10 years later, he admits emotions will be running high come tip-off tomorrow in Team GB’s opening pool match against Russia.
“I’m hoping I can go brain dead,” he said. “It’ll be very emotional for me with all the hard work that’s gone in over the years. I’ve got to put that into a compartment to the side and focus on what’s at hand, and then take a moment or two afterwards, or even before, and just enjoy it.”
Chicago Bulls forward Deng is the headline act of a squad that will do well to progress to the knockout stages.
Deng said prior to a warm-up double-header against Portugal in Sheffield recently that he took a lot from watching Reinking.
For Reinking, the respect is mutual, particularly for how Deng has not used his superstar status to dominate the squad.
“He’s just one of the guys, you just have to watch him to see he’s a great example to the rest of us,” said Reinking.
“The way he works, his professionalism. I’m 38 and I’m still learning things from him. It takes a lot to keep moving at 38, I’ve tried all the tricks of the trade to keep at a high level.
“But it’s a bunch of great guys, we’re all coming together and we’re hoping to peak on July 29 in London, and hopefully the chemistry will be at its highest then. We’re not shooting for anything less than reaching the quarter-finals, we’re not here just to enjoy the Olympics. We’re here to make some noise, to promote basketball in this country and compete with the best.”