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Maher takes helm of Chinese women's basketball
Updated: 2005-03-22 09:52

Tom Maher, the coaching pacesetter for more than 20 years in women's basketball in Australia, has taken the helm of the Chinese women's team.

Maher, the former coach of the Australian and New Zealand national women's teams, is the first foreigner to be appointed to the post.

The 52-year-old Maher will take the Chinese team for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, a job he described as the "most sought-after in world basketball".

While meeting the local media in Beijing on Sunday, Maher said that he's determined to drive the team to new heights although he is well aware of the risks of the job.

"In basketball coaching that's the business. The management and the coach of the team must be happy with each other. Or they go separate ways. That's just the business. It happens everywhere and every country."

Maher will take up the task that will have as its first target the Asian qualifiers in June for the world championships in Brazil in September next year.

He's now in Xi'ning in northwest China to watch the qualifying rounds of the National Games and get to know his players first-hand.

China hired Maher following the sacking of home-born head coach Gong Luming after the team managed only a disappointing ninth place in the Athens Olympics.

As head coach of the New Zealand national women's team, Maher helped the Kiwi hoopsters see off China 79-77 in the preliminary rounds in Athens, before finishing eighth.

Maher built the Australian team into a force to be reckoned with, leading the team to a bronze at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and a silver in Sydney four years later.

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