Maher upbeat despite defeat
July 19, 2012 07:00 am
Great Britain's men's basketball team will go through a full dress rehearsal for the Olympics on Thursday when they take on the United States in Manchester, hoping they can make the experience as positive as the one the women enjoyed on Wednesday.
The men take on the defending Olympic champions with a sell-out crowd expected at the MEN Arena - which would set a new record for basketball in this country.
The combination of that atmosphere and the toughest possible opposition should have Chris Finch's team fully charged for London - and it is exactly the sort of experience they need after a summer which has so far seen them play to often sparse crowds or behind closed doors.
"I think it will be a big help," forward Dan Clark said. "To give us that big-match atmosphere, and get those butterflies in your stomach that you're going to have in the Olympics."
The men will tip off 24 hours after the women took on the Americans, losing 88-63 but putting the world's number one side on notice when they stormed into an early 11-point lead.
Although they could not match the Americans' depth as the game wore on, it was a scrappy performance in which they showed plenty of positive signs in what was their final warm-up game before London 2012.
Indeed, as 25-point losses go, they may never come out of another one feeling so upbeat. The performance was all coach Tom Maher needed to be convinced his team is ready for the Olympics.
"Even a couple of months ago I was worried about how we'd perform, but, knock on wood we can stay healthy, I think we will be proud of our team," he said. "I think we can represent the country in an admirable way."
Having taken the early lead, Britain struggled when the Americans went to their bench and were able to bring in a second batch of world-class players, with the difference in depth on the two teams all too obvious to see. But most importantly for Maher, he felt they were not overpowered in the areas within their control.
"We made some good plays early, made some good shots," he said. "But then they started to thrash us with possession because they're the best running team in the world. I don't think anyone was surprised."
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