Basketball: Pops Mensah-Bonsu says Team GB's success will help the sport to grow in Britain

 

The success of the British Olympic basketball team will enable the sport to gain popularity in the UK, according to Pops Mensah-Bonsu.

Team GB face Brazil today, hoping to claim their first victory in the Games after defeat by Russia in their opening match. The hosts knew they would probably need two wins from their remaining four Pool B matches to progress to the last eight.

Russia’s display on Sunday showed the size of the task for Britain, but Tottenham-born Mensah-Bonsu is looking beyond London 2012. The 28-year-old recognises the boost that Olympic achievement has given to other sports and hopes basketball can gain greater prestige here if Great Britain surpass expectations.

“Hopefully we will do well and get the point across to the youth, the Government and the people of Great Britain that there is talent in this country,” said Mensah-Bonsu. “We can work on the grass roots and if we have success, everything will come.

“It’s like the saying, ‘build it and they will come’. I believe basketball is popular among many ethnic minority groups in this country. Britain is a diverse country and London is a diverse city.

“The success in cycling and rowing in the last Olympics had a positive impact on the younger generation and hopefully we can do the same. The domestic basketball leagues are strong in many European countries and we can get to that level.

“We can show young people how much fun basketball is and try to ensure they latch on. I remember growing up and watching teams like London Towers in the 1990s and there was plenty of interest in them. If we can get back to that, or better, we can make the domestic league respectable.

“There have been NBA matches staged in the UK and those things certainly help to attract attention, when you bring the best players here. There was also the game we played against the United States before this Olympic competition.

“That showed everyone what a great sport basketball is and I hope that one day it will start to have the kind of appeal that football and rugby have in this country.”

Mensah-Bonsu plays for Besiktas in Turkey and has also competed in the NBA as well as representing teams in France, Spain, Italy and Russia.

In the game against Russia, he was one of Britain’s best performers alongside Luol Deng. Deng, who plays for the Chicago Bulls, is Great Britain’s most accomplished player, but Mensah-Bonsu’s experience is also a vital element of their campaign.

Deng insisted: “We want to compete with all the teams who are here and I am confident that we have the guys to do it.”

Tom Maher says a lack of experience cost Great Britain women their first ever win in the Olympic basketball tournament. The hosts let a late lead slip against Canada to lose 73‑65 yesterday and coach Maher said: “Those girls haven’t been in that type of situation before.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions