Basketball: Anderson rose to the occasion as GB impress

With Great Britain women’s coach Tom Maher likely to settle on his 12-strong Olympic roster this week, a sense of urgency was always inevitable at Meadowbank yesterday as his side faced Canada in the first home friendly of their build-up to London.

The Australian, a veteran of four Games with three different nations, is not one for hyperbole. He knows his team remain long shots for glory this summer. Yet he is quietly confident that the work ethic instilled within his squad will serve them well. A 70-57 victory against the highly-ranked Canadians will only add to his subtle optimism.

“I was delighted, I won’t lie,” said Maher. “It was terrific against a team we need to be able to cope with. When you look at world rankings, they’re in the mix for the Olympics. These are the kind of teams you want to compete against.”

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There will be one last potential opportunity for his fringe players to plead their cases today in a re-match. For Rose Anderson, the lone Scot in the GB squad, inclusion is probable but by no means certain. She did her chances no harm with a pointed contribution on a court she got to know well at the outset of her career with Edinburgh Kool Kats.

She had four points and three assists but out-shone a number of her would-be rivals in the battle for a place on the GB bench. “I’m trying not to concern myself with cuts,” she declared. “When you start thinking about stuff like that, you’ll go crazy. We’ve got other goals and we have to focus on that.”

Trailing 28-24 at the end of a scrappy first half, Britain stepped up after the break. An 11-2 run piloted by Nat Stafford – who had a team-high 16 points – pushed Maher’s side in front for good early in the third quarter and they surged as much as 13 clear in the closing minute. “We have to play them again so we’ll have a look at things,” said Anderson. “We’re just trying to improve.”

Great Britain’s men may hand out late invites to their pre-Olympic training camp in Houston, which begins this week, after losing two players from their original 21-man squad. Ryan Richards, chosen in the 2009 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs, stunned officials by declaring his intent to play for Jamaica. The 21-year-old forward, who won seven senior caps last year, is understood to have informed British Basketball of his decision by e-mail.

“Clearly Ryan is a talented athlete,” said British Basketball’s performance director Chris Spice. “We’re disappointed that he’s made that decision. But we have to move on.”

The withdrawal of the uncapped Sullivan Phillips has left officials red-faced after it was discovered he was ineligible. “After submitting the paperwork to FIBA, we found out that he’d played in a senior game for Bermuda,” Spice confirmed. Robert Archibald and Kieron Achara are the two Scots bound for Texas.