London 2012: Stewart eyes boost for basketball

17:32 03 August 2012

Former Haringey Angels star Azania Stewart thinks the London Olympics will be a bonus to British basketball

Former Haringey Angels star Azania Stewart thinks the London Olympics will be a bonus to British basketball

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Olympic basketball: Home Games can improve interest in the sport, says GB forward

Great Britain forward Azania Stewart has praised the GB fans, and is hopeful that the Olympics will leave a lasting legacy for the game in this country.

The home team have lost all three games so far but go into tonight’s 8pm tip-off against France propping up their qualifying group.

But when asked if playing in front of the home crowd provided any extra pressure, Stewart was adamant that it was a bonus: “It will never hinder you, it’s your home crowd and if anything it gives you a push on the back.

“Against Russia we were struggling a bit in our third game in five days, but the home crowd were excellent. I’ve got my family and my college coach flew in just for today’s game, but I take my hat off to the crowd – they’ll love us to the end.

“One of our goals was to get women’s basketball out there and show young girls that it’s a great sport. You learn so much, travel the world and get a free education. We just wanted to get the word out about basketball.”

The 22-year-old Londoner was delighted to see the Olympic Basketball Arena full again on Wednesday: “There’s no empty seats . It’s so exciting to watch, there’s no hanging around for a goal. Everyone’s on the edge of their seat having fun, and even though we haven’t won yet, I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Stewart admitted that her side had found it tough going against the world number three ranked Russians: “They [Russia] are such a good team. We knew they were going to make runs. Basketball is about making runs and managing that momentum.

“We got sucked in and their shooters had so much time to hit the threes (three-point shots). It’s hard to handle and try to come back from.

“We traded baskets all game but we couldn’t get one when we needed it in the last couple of minutes. We are really struggling with those last three minutes.

“We still have two games and still have a chance to get through. We are lucky in that we still have a chance unlike in some sports like judo where it is one and done. This could be a blessing in disguise. France and Brazil are still beatable.”

Britain face France on Friday before wrapping up the group stage against Brazil on Monday.

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