Basketball: GB team braced for USA test

 

Great Britain's basketball teams are preparing to face their toughest-ever opponents - the United States - this week, hoping to build on the momentum of a strong showing this weekend in Sheffield.

The men recorded their first wins of the Olympic preparations with back-to-back victories over Portugal, while the women enjoyed a hugely encouraging 74-67 victory over world number eight France, capping a weekend that also saw them beat Angola and lose to the powerful Australians.

Now they head to Manchester, where the women will take on the Americans on Wednesday and the men on Thursday, with the world and Olympic champions posing the toughest test either team has faced to date.

The matches should provide something of a preview for the Games, with big crowds expected to give the teams a taste of the atmosphere they will face in London, and the opponents to make clear the standards required to succeed at the highest level.

"It's very exciting for us," said men's star Pops Mensah-Bonsu. "It should be real energetic, real crazy with an amazing atmosphere and it will be a great game for us to play in.

"It's definitely important to have that going into the Olympics because I'm hoping and guessing that's what the atmosphere will be like coming into London. It will be a good test for us and it will be interesting to see how we respond to that type of crowd."

Britain's NBA star Luol Deng regularly faces the US players in the league, and is looking forward to hosting them on home turf.

"I'm definitely excited, but British Basketball should be really excited too," he said. "This is the best team in the world, the best it gets, and they're coming here to play us. and they're looking forward to it too.

"If you go back a few years, they would never even think about playing the British team so that in itself is an accomplishment."

The men will play two more friendlies after Thursday, heading to Belgium to play Tunisia and their hosts at the weekend, but for the women Wednesday is the final chance to test themselves on court before the lights go on in London.

Barring a monumental upset, that means they are likely to finish their preparations with a defeat, but coach Tom Maher is not worrying about the results.

"If you're just worrying about that, you're going the wrong way," said the Australian, who is preparing for his fifth Olympic Games. "You have to focus on how you play, the integrity of what you're doing, whether you're maintaining your shapes and your cohesion. If you win and you don't do all that, it's fool's gold. If you lose but you do, that's something.

"It's about the quality of the performance and that's the only thing you worry about."

Forward Julie Page, one of the stars of the victory over France, added: "They are some of the best players in the world, but we just have to focus on what we're doing, not on the scoreboard. We have to make sure we do what we can do."

PA

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Sport
SPORT
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick