Auriemma impressed by GB women

18 July 2012 / 08:31

The Great Britain women's basketball team have been opening eyes with the speed of their progress and now get the chance to show the best in the world how far they have come.

The latest mark of Britain's development from an afterthought to a team to be reckoned with came with their 74-67 victory over France - a team ranked eighth in the world - on Sunday.

On Wednesday night they tackle the United States, the Olympic and world champions, in Manchester and the American coach Geno Auriemma admitted he had been made to sit up and take notice by news of Britain's achievements. "Everything I've read, everything I've heard about them says they're way, way better than they've been and that's good timing," he said.

"When I saw the (France) score, I immediately reacted to it. France is probably one of the best five or six teams so to have success against them certainly bodes well for the future."

For Britain, the US game will be their last warm-up before they head to London, but it will be only the second for the Americans after a victory over Brazil in Washington DC on Monday night. A late start is normal for United States teams, who allow their players longer rest due to differing league schedules.

It means the teams will come into the game at very different levels of readiness, with Britain two-and-a-half months into their own preparations.

"We've still got a lot of work to do," Auriemma added. "We've only been together for a few days. Against Brazil, we were missing our star point guard Sue Bird. She'll be back but not in time to play Britain.

"But we'll be fine. We just need time together to be game ready when the Olympics start."

Auriemma's team are the overwhelming favourites for gold, and that is a tag the coach - who led the team to the world title in the Czech Republic in 2010 - is happy to wear.

"I've always thought that when people make you favourites, it's for a reason," he said. "The bigger burden is when people say, 'I don't think you can win. I don't think you're good enough'. Then you have to go and surprise people. But I don't want any surprises. I don't like surprises."