GB women relying on Maher's experience

24 July 2012 / 08:32

The Great Britain women basketball players will be leaning on the vast experience of their coach Tom Maher when they go into their first Olympic Games this weekend.

This will be the first Games at which Britain has ever been represented in women's basketball, and only the second major tournament the team has played in after last year's European Championship.

But that lack of experience is counter-balanced by the CV of Maher, who will be coaching in his fifth Olympics, and his third in charge of the home nation.

Maher led his native Australia in 1996 and 2000, New Zealand in 2004 and China in 2008, winning bronze and silver in Atlanta and Sydney respectively while guiding China to fourth place in Beijing.

With emotions bound to be running high in the squad ahead of Saturday's opener, Maher's message to the players has been simple.

"He's just pressed upon us the need to prepare the same way, to do everything the way we've always done," said 23-year-old Londoner Azania Stewart.

"He tells us, 'Do everything you've done to get to this point, don't change it or get your mind in the wrong place now'.

"We've been preparing for four years and had a great training camp so we have to trust our bodies, trust our daily routines and not all of a sudden flip out and try something new."

Britain's star guard Jo Leedham plays her club basketball for Maher with the WNBL's Bulleen Boomers in Australia so knows the coach's methods backwards.

"At the end of the day it's still just a basketball tournament that happens to have loads of other tournaments around it," she said. "We're going to play another basketball game but there might be a few extra people watching."