Catchings backs team to do Britain proud

19 July 2012 / 16:11

United States star Tamika Catchings has backed the Great Britain women's basketball team to shine in the London Olympics after coming away impressed from Wednesday night's friendly in Manchester.

The Americans - the defending Olympic and world champions - ran out 88-63 winners, but only after Britain stormed into an early 11-point lead in the greatest test in the team's history.

Catchings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, admitted Britain had surprised them in the first quarter, and she believes they can catch others out in London too.

"I thought they played really well together as a team, and they're going to do their country proud," Catchings told Press Association Sport. "They've got a lot of young talent, a lot of good talent, and when they play together they look amazing so they're going to be a good team to watch."

Britain had led 21-10 early in the second quarter, but were eventually worn down as the Americans were able to bring more world class talent off the bench, their depth proving too much for the hosts to keep pace with.

The Americans will arrive in London with an active 33-0 winning streak in Olympic competition, a run which dates back to 1992, and few teams can live with their speed and athleticism.

Britain are unlikely to come away from any other 25-point defeat with quite so many positives as Wednesday night, with coach Tom Maher - a veteran of four Olympic games with Australia, New Zealand and China - sounding as positive as he has done all summer.

"I'm delighted with the progress of the players," he said. "You can really see them learning. They've come so far and I couldn't be prouder.

"Britain's not a basketball nation, but it is a sporting nation and I think we can show them now that we're a contender.

"I'm ecstatic with how the team's doing."