Maher hails British women

07 August 2012 / 14:23

The Great Britain women's basketball team may have finished 0-5 in London, but their two-time Olympic medal-winning coach Tom Maher has taken as much from the experience as he did in previous Games.

Maher won bronze in 1996 and silver in 2000 while coaching his native Australia, and has also guided New Zealand to a best-ever finish of eighth in 2004 and China to an impressive fourth place in Beijing. Britain have finished their London 2012 campaign ranked 11th out of the 12 teams but Maher is as proud of their performance as any other of his teams.

"I think you have to look at where you finished compared to where you should have finished," he said.

"By seeding alone we finished where we should finish, but I think the way we were able to play teams ranked in the top 10, for a team ranked just inside the top 50, was extraordinary.

"I value the success of the team as much as any other I've coached."

Britain lost only one of their five games by more than single figures, and took the likes of Russia and France to the wire, only losing in the last second of overtime against the French.

Britain may have fallen short of a breakthrough win, but their performances earned nothing but plaudits from opposing coaches and players, and the team hope to have won more fans over even if their numbers make it a hard sell.

"Unless you were there or you saw it at home, you might just see the 0-5 record," said captain Jo Leedham. "You don't see the heart, the grit, the determination that was behind it and how close we were in every single game."

Maher spoke with enthusiasm about this team before the Games, but admits it was not until their opening game against world number two Australia, which they lost 74-58, that he believed it for sure.

"I realised then our talk had come to fruition," he said. "We'd been talking about being competitive but we still had to do it. Late on, we're down 14 points and not 40 or 50. It make me think, 'Jeez, we are a decent team' and that was a real moment for me."