May 24 2013 Latest news:
By Ziad Chaudry
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Tottenham’s Team GB basketball star Pops Mensah-Bonsu hopes his appearance at London 2012 will inspire local youngsters to take up the sport.
The 6ft 9ins NBA star, who grew up in Tottenham and attended St Thomas More School in Wood Green, top scored in the final warm-up games against Tunisia and Belgium at the weekend, netting 18 points and 21 points respectively.
Team GB lost both matches, having also been beaten 118-78 by the USA at Manchester’s MEN Arena last Thursday.
But Mensah-Bonsu, who represented Haringey in the London Youth Games as a teenager, remains positive about Team GB’s chances at the Olympics – and he is also aware of the bigger picture as he eyes a sporting legacy in his home city.
“I think the future is bright for us,” said the 28-year-old, who has played for the Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Hornets and now plies his trade for Turkish outfit Besiktas Milangaz.
“I definitely feel with the potential we have, and the type of team we can be, that we are going to surprise a few people – and the world.
“Coming from the streets of Tottenham I wanted to show my family, friends and younger generation that you can make it.
“The Olympics will be inspiring and hopefully it can motivate some of the younger generation to take up the sport.
“I was a young kid of 13 walking around the streets of Tottenham. Then I began playing basketball and made it to the highest level, so hopefully these kids can be inspired and make it to the same level as me.”
Mensah-Bonsu is one of two Haringey heroes in the Team GB basketball side, alongside captain Drew Sullivan, who also represented the borough in the London Youth Games.
A former 100m and 200m athlete during his school days in north London, 32-year-old Sullivan scored 11 points against the USA last week.
GB start their Olympics campaign against Russia at the Basketball Arena on Sunday (July 29) – and the skipper, who plays for Leicester Riders, is ecstatic to be back playing in his home city.
“I couldn’t ask for any more,” said Sullivan. “I just want to be part of it and to be involved – whether it is going to be a lot or a little.
“Being from London, and being able to represent my country in a London Olympics, is a dream come true.”
GB recently faced Russia twice during a pre-season preparation camp in Houston, Texas, and were defeated on both occasions – but Sullivan believes his side are better prepared for this weekend’s showdown.
“We’ve actually done really well with the very hard schedule we’ve had going into the Olympics,” he said. “Before the USA game we had some really good results. When we played Russia they were a lot further ahead than us in their preparations, so we’ve had some tough games.
“We’ve had a lot of good preparations and game time, so there is a good chance we can get a few surprise results.”
Men’s basketball fixtures (Group B):
Sunday July 29 v Russia (8pm)
Tuesday July 31 v Brazil (4.45pm)
Thursday Aug 2 v Spain (8pm)
Saturday August 4 v Australia (8pm)
Monday August 6 v China (4.45pm)
Top four teams from the group qualify for the quarter-finals