Basketball: Britain face pressure to keep 2012 dream alive

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The Independent Online

Britain's long road to earn a place in London's 2012 Olympic Games will be difficult unless they get their European B Championship campaign on the road with victory over the Netherlands at Edinburgh's Meadowbank tonight.

The coach Chris Finch's team opened their group with a 73-62 defeat in Slovakia last weekend. Unavailability among some key players has been an irritation and frustration for Finch as he knows that unless Great Britain are promoted to the European A Championships by 2009, the Olympic dream will die.

"It's no good players knocking on the door in 2010 and thinking they'll get a place in the Olympics because unless we start performing now there won't even be a door to knock on," he said. "It's a lot on our shoulders and the target of 2012 is obviously there. But it's as much about putting in place our expectations of the programme and the players and getting them to commit."

International federation president Bob Elphinston said: "We need competitive men's and women's teams out of Britain, not just teams that are going to make up the numbers."

Joel Freeland, the 6ft 10in 19-year-old drafted in the summer by the Portland Trail Blazers, is expected to make his debut tonight. Freeland's NBA dream will have to wait, though, as the Blazers have returned him to his Spanish club, Gran Canaria.

Great Britain (v Netherlands): E Boateng, S Hansell, C Haslam, R Huggins, T Johnson, J Joseph, P Lawson, N Reinking, C Sanders, Y Williams, R Reed, A Sullivan.