GB teams are heating up - Spice
July 16, 2012 07:09 am
Great Britain Basketball performance director Chris Spice believes both the men and women are right on track in their preparations for the Olympics after a strong showing in warm-up games in Sheffield this weekend.
The men recorded back-to-back victories over Portugal - their first wins of the summer - while the women recorded a hugely encouraging win over France on Sunday, having also beaten Angola and lost to world number two Australia. Spice told Press Association Sport: "It's been a really good weekend."
He added: "The men have consolidated a lot of the work they've been doing in the past few weeks, and for the girls it was a fantastic effort, playing against a world-class team in Australia and then coming back a day later to play another in France and come away with the win, that's huge for them in terms of confidence."
The women's win over France, a team ranked eighth in the world, was without question the highlight of the weekend as they came back from a 10-point deficit in the first half and then protected a narrow lead down the stretch to win 74-67.
Coach Tom Maher summed it up after the game by saying: "Two years ago nobody in basketball would have said there was a snowflake in hell's chance of that". But despite the eye-opening nature of the result, Spice insisted he was not surprised.
"If you look out how we played in our warm-up games in the Czech Republic and Turkey, we were beating teams around the top 10 and we went one-on-one with the Czech Republic who are in the top three. I thought if we played well we'd give ourselves a chance, and having our experienced players back down the stretch was really big."
Guard Stef Collins believes the result shows they are now ready to make their mark in London. She said: "We've worked so hard and been together for two and a half months now. We're ready for the big stage now."
The men took time to find their stride in the first game against Portugal before pulling out an 83-69 victory, but looked much stronger in yesterday's 86-66 win, which featured big contributions off the bench as Kyle Johnson led all scorers with 21 points.
It had been key for confidence for Britain to put some wins on the board after a series of close defeats in their preparations so far, but Spice said those results had not shown the team's true face.
"In reality, Luol (Deng) and Pops (Mensah-Bonsu) didn't play much in Houston as we were just nursing them back in," he said. "They'd only really had the two games against France and Spain, so from now on you'll see a different team."
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