The London Olympics, Luol Deng’s rise to all-star status in the NBA and Sky Sports’ improved coverage has enabled British basketball to properly start to rebuild and develop after the Millennium Slump.
There’s no doubt the BBL are making an effort, after all, participation levels are high and new franchises from several cities have been considered. Then, in terms of basketball as a national sport, having a British team taking part in the 2012 games has generated interest within the fan community and the mainstream media.
To see the Great Britain national team being taken seriously would be an achievement. Something which all of the above factors combined may help create.
Before the Olympics begin, Team GB will play a friendly against the United States, the world’s best national side according to FIBA. One attitude to this tie would be to hope the USA field an injury conscious, weaker, experimental team that the British are capable of defeating.
In the long-term, victory in this match would do nothing for the national game. Instead, what fans should hope for, is to see the likes of LeBron James included in the American’s line-up and witness a hard-working British side playing to the best of their ability receive a battering.
It may sound odd, but it’s no different from going into an exam. GB needs to know where their weaknesses are if they are to ever improve their game and change global perspectives of British basketball. In short, they’d learn more from getting hammered by the 2008 Olympic Gold medal winners than what they would from a tight victory over Cameroon – the country ranked one place above GB at 42.
It would be a success in itself at the London Olympics if GB makes it out of the group stage. But they’d have more chance of doing so after being taught a few lessons by the best side in the world.
The July friendly is indeed an Olympic opportunity.