London 2012: Tough Olympic Basketball draw for Team GB
Great Britain's Basketball coach Chris Finch is looking ahead after learning his team's Olympic opponents this week
Great Britain basketball coach Chris Finch insists the enormity of this summer’s Olympics has really hit home after the tournament draw in Rio De Janeiro.
Team GB will appear in their first Olympic basketball tournament since 1948 and will face three opponents ranked in the world’s top 10.
World number two side Spain, who will include the likes of NBA superstars Pau and Marc Gasol on their roster, were silver medallists in Beijing and have won the last two EuroBasket titles.
Australia, who Great Britain narrowly lost to in overtime at last year’s Olympic test event, are ranked ninth in the world while China are tenth.
Finch’s team, which is expected to include NBA stars Luol Deng, Ben Gordon and Byron Mullens, will also face Brazil and an unknown qualifier in their five-match group schedule.
But they will be happy to have avoided the defending Olympic and world champion USA side, who they will face in their final warm-up match eight days before the Games in Manchester.
“At this level, there are no easy groups and the draw proved that every game at the Olympics will be really tough,” said Finch.
“The coaches and players have been waiting for this day for months, if not years. Now we can begin preparing for our opponents.”
While Finch’s luck could have been worse, Great Britain’s women face a tough initiation in their first-ever Olympic appearance.
They will play world number two Australia and world number three Russia, who won last year’s EuroBasket title.
Coach Tom Maher will get a chance to see Australia up close in one of their last warm-up matches in Sheffield, while he will take heart from their narrow 62-59 defeat to Russia last summer.
In addition they will face group games against Brazil and two qualifiers yet to be decided.
“There are no easy draws or games at the Olympics for teams that have not been at this table before,” said British Basketball performance director Chris Spice.
“Preparation will be the key to our success and we must be diligent in leaving no stone unturned in getting the best out of our players for the next 88 days.
“During the Olympic tournaments there will be twists and turns and only the best prepared will survive to the end. We are really looking forward to giving our loyal fans and the British public something to remember.”
© Sportsbeat 2012