Marc Steutel is banking on his senior stars to restore some national pride as Great Britain bid to wrap up their World Cup campaign on a high in Newcastle later this month.
But the acting head coach intends to blood some exciting new talent on Tyneside against a Belgian roster bidding to end its own losing streak.
And Steutel hopes a new-look mix of youth and experience will light up the Vertu Motors Arena when Group I’s bottom two lock horns on February 24.
“When the squad’s announced next week I hope people will get a glimpse of the longer-term plan,” explained GB’s acting playcaller.
“Of course, I want us to beat Belgium in front of another bumper crowd in Newcastle.
“But I also want this final World Cup qualifying window to be an opportunity for some of the country’s younger talent to step up and experience senior international basketball.
“We can’t make the World Cup finals and so the focus is already on preparing for Eurobasket qualification. We have to look to the future.
“Everyone involved with GB knows just how difficult it was to qualify for Eurobasket last summer and it will be just as tough to get back there again.
“So the hard work starts now. Hopefully we get the balance right in terms of blooding some new guys and giving Belgium a really tough test.”
Steutel is back in a familiar role as his country’s acting head coach with Nate Reinking once again required to assist Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA.
It is expected that national team bosses will make a decision on the future direction of the senior international coaching set-up once GB have returned from their final World Cup qualifier in Serbia on February 27.
But Steutel is surely in the frame to be a key part of any new national team structure given his outstanding contribution in Reinking’s absence during the last two years.
“After this window is over I hope that there will be some sort of stability within the programme as far as the players and the staff are concerned,” added Newcastle Eagles’ head coach.
“For now I’m fully focused on the Belgium and Serbia games and getting the best out of the players available.”
One player who won’t be in contention for GB selection is Newcastle guard Ben Mockford.
The former Cheshire man twisted his ankle against the Phoenix and had to be helped off court following an agonising fall.
Scans have revealed no break but Mockford is expected to be sidelined for at least four weeks — ruling him out of this month’s World Cup double header.
Steutel will also be without Cam Hildreth as the point guard continues to make waves with Wake Forest in the NCAA.
But he added: “We’ve accepted the fact that some of our better young players performing at college level in the US simply won’t be available this time.
“We know that talent’s there but there are many more exciting players coming through.
“There are a lot of impressive young players on my radar right now at home and abroad.
“I think there’s an opportunity for some of them to learn from the senior guys during this window and to become part of the long-term future.”
Tickets for Great Britain’s World Cup qualifier against Belgium at the Vertu Motors Arena are on sale, but selling fast so hurry to the box office to get yours now.