Long wait for Olympics finally over for British basketball team following draws
Tuesday, 01 May 2012
May 1 - Great Britain's basketball men's head coach Chris Finch has said that his team has been waiting for this summer's Olympics for "months, if not years" as it found out yesterday who it will play at London 2012.
It is the first time Britain (pictured top, in blue) will be compete the Games since the last time it was the hosts, in 1948, when it finished 20th.
Britain has pitted with 2008 Olympic runners-up Spain as well as Australia, Brazil and China plus as an as yet unknown qualifier.
The British team will be preparing for this summer's Games with a clash with 13-times and reigning Olympic champions United States, and having beaten China last year it is hoping to make its mark in London.
"At this level, there are no easy groups and today's draw proved that every game at the Olympics will be really tough," said Finch (pictured below).
"The coaches and players have been waiting for this day for months, if not years.
"Now we can begin preparing for our opponents."
The US was given a tough test in its group alongside the only other team at London 2012 to have previously won Olympic gold, Argentina, as well as African champions Tunisia and France.
They will be joined by two teams from the world qualifiers which take place in Venezuela prior to the Games.
"It appears that our group is going to be extremely competitive," US coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement.
"It's a tough draw with a former Olympic champion in Argentina; France is another powerful team, a veteran team that is extremely talented; Tunisia continues to improve and then our group will add the top two teams from the FIBA World Qualifying Tournament.
"In the Olympics you only have 12 countries qualify so you're going to have tough draws, and that's why winning a gold medal is such a great accomplishment."
One team returning to the Games after a 16-year absence is Brazil.
"We have a team that has chances of getting a new medal for Brazil," said its former star, Oscar Schmidt, who believes that his country is the strongest from South America at the Games.
"We have a lot of respect for Argentina but that team is no longer the one that won the gold medal in 2004."
Patty Mills, the Australian guard, said the Oceania champion is relishing the draw.
''We were all talking about the draw at practice this morning,'' Mills said.
''It's a great group.
"Brazil's in there and Great Britain, China and Spain, and the other group is tough too, but we can definitely do our research on those teams in our group and we can be very, very competitive.
''The thing for us is to set our goals and our standards high, and settle for nothing less than that.''
In the women's draw the hosts Great Britain avoided reigning champions the US, but has a slightly tricky draw in European champions Russia, Brazil, three-times runners-up Australia and two qualifiers.
The other group pits the US with Angola, China and three yet to be confirmed qualifiers.
April 2012: US face tough competition to defend Olympic basketball title