Maher: Underestimate us at your peril

23 July 2012 / 16:01

Great Britain women's basketball coach Tom Maher has promised his team will surprise anyone who is not fully prepared to face them when the Olympics get under way this weekend.

Britain go into the games ranked 49th in the world, 18 places below any other team in the tournament, which will feature six of the top 10. However, results throughout this summer's training camp suggest Britain are much better than the numbers show as they have beaten the likes of the fourth-ranked Czech Republic and number eight France.

"We'll be surprisingly good if people aren't ready for us," said Maher, whose team will begin their campaign with their toughest assignment in the group, against world number two Australia on Saturday.

"It's great to have them first up," he added of his home country, and a team he coached to Olympic bronze in 1996 and silver in 2000. "We're at hugely long odds when we play against Australia but to play them first, we'll be playing without any pressure at all.

"We can get our Olympic feet wet in a great environment. It'll be up and down but a lot of fun."

Maher is going into his fifth Olympics as a coach, and third as the coach of the home nation having led Australia in Sydney and China in Beijing four years ago.

Britain has been his biggest challenge, however, as the team was only formed in 2006 with London as the goal.

And since taking charge in 2009, Maher has had to help grow the profile of the sport here to create a legacy that lasts long after this summer.

"I would have said when we started that was the whole goal for us," he said. "Britain said, 'Okay, basketball is a major world sport that we're not that much in to, but we need to get into it'.

"My thought was to do that we have to get to a state where other teams say, 'Right, that's a team we have to play well to beat'. It's about respect, and I think we've come a long way."