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Okros up to challenge to match brother, earn promotion to Division A
LONDON (FIBA U16 European Championship 2017, Division B) - Mate Okros nearly helped his country to promotion from the FIBA U16 European Championship Division B last summer. This time around, the guard is captaining Great Britain with the goal of following in the footsteps of his brother Tamas Okros.
This will be the first summer that Great Britain will be represented at all three age groups in Europe. In the past, the U16 and U18 teams were playing as England, Wales and Scotland with the U20 team being from Great Britain. That means the U16 Division B in Sofia will be historic for the federation.
"Being the first ever Great Britain U16 squad, it would mean a lot for us to get promoted and knowing that we did the whole nation proud by getting Great Britain into Division A - where we belong," Mate Okros said.
Okros was actually born in Debrecen, Hungary and moved to England when he was 7 years old when his father - who used to play basketball in the Hungarian league - got a job in England.
"Being the first ever Great Britain U16 squad it would mean a lot for us to get promoted and knowing that we did the whole nation proud by getting Great Britain back to Division A - where we belong."Mate Okros
The youngest of two sons, Mate Okros started playing when he was 4 years old. He says his brother Tamas influenced him to play basketball as he watched him play when he was young with his parents.
"We used to play against each other in my grandparents' garden. I used to hate to lose against him so I would always try to get better to beat him," Mate said of Tamas, who has played collegiate-level in the United States for the past two seasons. "Me and my brother's basketball relationship was very supportive to each other about our achievements. When we were young we used the play against each other and we still do now every time he comes back to see us. We would work out with each other trying to get better."
The 6ft 4in (1.92m) Mate Okros was close to getting England back to Division A last summer in Sofia but they lost to eventual champions Russia in the Quarter-Finals and ended up finishing fifth. Their only other defeat came against finalists Israel.
"It hurt a lot because watching the Final, we knew as a team that we could have easily been there getting promotion - only losing by one point against Russia," said Okros, who struggled in the 62-61 loss against Russia with just four points on 1-of-10 shooting with two rebounds and two assists.
"We must prepare ourselves mentality so that every game, no matter what happens, we always win the mental battle; so we never lose focus as every possession matters towards the end result," Okros said.
There is also the case of preparing himself to fill the big shoes left behind by his brother in international youth competition.
"My brother has achieved a lot with the national program and it will be tough to match that," Mate Okros said of Tamas, who played one summer at the U16 level and two years at each U18 and U20. "But I am up to the challenge and determined to get Great Britain that promotion."