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Maher proud of basketball efforts

August 6, 2012 08:29 am

Great Britain basketball women's coach Tom Maher declared himself proud of his team's efforts even as they finished their Olympic campaign 0-5, claiming their efforts should be judged by the same standards as a nation like Andorra playing in a football World Cup.

Although Britain lost their final game 78-66 to Brazil, they can look back on a tournament in which they pushed both Canada and Russia close, and took the unbeaten French to overtime before losing in the final second.

"I think we've had great results," Maher said. "If Andorra played in a World Cup and their biggest loss was 1-0 to Spain people would see that as a brilliant thing, and that's not an unrealistic comparison.

"Sure we would like to win, but if France had missed a three-pointer on the buzzer, we would have won that game. I wouldn't say we should have won any of those games, the results were about right, but we could have flipped a couple of them with a bit of luck."

The lack of a breakthrough win has no doubt cost British Basketball a greater degree of exposure during the Olympics, but Maher wants their work to be judged in context.

The team was only formed in 2006 out of the home nations with the target of playing in these games, and has risen from being entirely off the charts to being ranked inside the top 50, with friendly victories over teams inside the top 10 under their belt.

"The fact we're talking about being able to beat these teams is unbelievable," Maher added. "To be in the breath with these teams is unbelievable. We've gone from a 'C' grade to an 'A' grade and I'm grateful for everyone I've worked with for being part of that."

Britain's dream of reaching the quarter-finals here were ended on Friday even before they took the court for that thrilling game against France.

But they had nevertheless craved a win in order to make that breakthrough in their first ever Olympics - a tournament it took them six years to make as world governing body FIBA laid down a series of standards for them to meet.

"It's been a long road for us," said veteran guard Stef Collins, who has been with the team from the start.

"The Olympics has been a rollercoaster and every game has been tough. Brazil are a team with a long history of playing in the Olympics.

"We wanted it so bad and fought as hard as we could but they shot so well and that was the difference in the game."

Even with Brazil shooting at a significantly better rate, Britain reached half-time down only 39-36 to the South Americans, but that gap quickly became double figures at the start of the second half.

"It's a big momentum thing, especially at half-time," Collins added.

"You have a bit of down time, and you come back and you've got to kick in.

"They came back and had some great shots. We played hard, we played as a team but the baskets just didn't drop. There were many factors but we're holding our heads high because we've come a long way."

Natalie Stafford led Britain with 15 points while Jo Leedham added 12 and Julie Page 11.

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