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Basketball - 18. May 2011.

GBR – Mason: “We have nothing to fear at EuroBasket”

LONDON (EuroBasket Women 2011) – Veteran Great Britain forward Ros Mason believes her team could be a surprise package at next month’s EuroBasket Women tournament in Poland.

Mason, who has been a regular on the squad since 2005, is currently in training camp preparing for the British Basketball Invitational Tournament that will see Great Britain take on Germany, Latvia and Cuba in Guildford between Thursday and Saturday.

The squad, being put through its paces by Australian coach Tom Maher, will then take on WNBA team Atlanta Dream on 29 May in Manchester before heading to Poland where they will face Belarus, Czech Republic and Israel in Group B of the Preliminary Round.

“We are feeling great and training well. Our coach is determined to get the best out of each player and we are getting better with every session. Everything is 100 per cent and every time we step on the floor, it’s “go, go, go,” Mason told FIBA.com during a visit to support the Carry A Basketball, Not A Blade campaign at Newvic College in Plaistow, East London.

The scheme promotes basketball as a way of turning youngsters away from knife crime, gang activity and anti-social behaviour.

“This is the strongest team we have had. We have earned the right to be in Poland. We feel we are well matched with all the teams in our group and we can give all of them a good game. We respect them all but we have nothing to fear if we play to our full potential.”

Not satisfied

The 32-year-old, who plays for Swedish side Solna Vikings, said Great Britain aren’t satisfied with making their first appearance in Europe’s leading international women’s basketball competition.

“Of course, it was great to qualify for the EuroBasket but we are not just going there to make up the numbers,” she warned.

“Israel are good but we felt we matched them when we played them.

“There are some good teams but we are confident. Once you are on the floor, you have deal with the player who is pitted against and it’s all about winning that battle.”

Before they embark on their trip to Poland, Great Britain will be put through their paces by their opponents in this week’s tournament and at the end of the month by 2010 WNBA finalists Atlanta.

“The invitational tournament that is coming up will be a good test of where we stand,” Mason said. “Obviously, the WNBA is very strong and the game against the Atlanta Dream will also be a good challenge.”

Huge lift

The London native also pointed out that the fact of being automatically qualified for next year’s Olympics has provided a huge lift for the team and motivated every player to work that much harder.

“Getting the decision from FIBA to play at the London Olympics has given everyone a real boost,” she explained.

“We had to prove we are competitive and we believe we can now go to Poland and give the top teams a run for their money.”

Mason was joined by team-mate Yemi Oyefuwa in running the basketball clinic for youngsters in Plaistow last Friday, while team-mates Julie Page and Natalie Stafford did the same in nearby Rokeby School, in Canning Town.

The four players put the youngsters through drills, offered advice and answered questions while also emphasizing the social importance of basketball to them.

“Education and basketball go together. If you do not take care of business in the classroom, then you won’t do well on the court,” Mason said.

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