GB women gain confidence from defeat

29 July 2012 / 13:18

The Great Britain women's basketball team emerged from defeat in their Olympic debut against Australia on Saturday night confident they can compete for a place in the knock-out stages of the competition.

Star guard Jo Leedham believes their performance in a 74-58 defeat to the number two team in the world can give them belief as Britain got the toughest task of the group stages out of the way early on.

"They're ranked number two for a reason," said Leedham, who had 11 points, six rebounds and four steals in the game. "They're an amazing team with huge size, but we dealt well with it. We knew it would be a battle but it gives us confidence now because they're a great team."

It was an emotional night for the British players, the culmination of a six-year quest to make it to these Games, and there were signs of a few nerves among the players in the early stages.

Some of Britain's offensive play looked rushed and that showed up in poor shooting figures, with Britain making only 20 of 68 from the floor in the game.

"Sometimes when you play such a good team and you do get open, you're kind of shocked," said Leedham. "We just need to settle a bit more as a team."

Australia enjoyed an 18-0 spurt that spanned the first and second quarters and had built a 39-26 lead by half-time, but Britain matched them after the break, with Australia able to add only three points to their margin of victory as Britain began to find their rhythm.

"In the first half they were pushing us out of our stuff," said guard Natalie Stafford, who led Britain with 12 points. "Then in the second half when we were getting to them, we were maybe shooting a bit too quickly.

"But this was a good game to play first and to get the nerves out of the way."

Centre Azania Stewart added: "I think it was a great start for us playing against a team like Australia. Obviously it was always going to be tough, but we were getting our feet wet, feeling the atmosphere and getting rid of nerves, so it was a good start for us."