Leedham insists Britain can bounce back
August 2, 2012 16:25 pm
Great Britain's women's basketball team are determined to keep fighting for a place in the quarter-finals of the London Olympics even with the odds now stacked against them.
Wednesday night's 67-61 loss to European champions Russia dropped Tom Maher's team to a 0-3 win-loss record in the Games, and needing to pull off victories over France and Brazil in their last two outings to have a shot at progression.
Even though Britain fought creditably to push the European champions and a team ranked joint-second in the world so close, the players were left frustrated by another narrow defeat when they had seen the opportunity of victory before them.
"It's a tough loss, but there are two games left to bounce back," said small forward Jo Leedham. "There are always positives and negatives to take, but we have to take the positives. We had a great start, but we know at this level you have to put 40 minutes together, not 35 or 36. It has to be a solid 40."
Although it has now come down to the do-or-die stage, guard Rose Anderson insisted the squad were not feeling the heat.
"There's not any more pressure than there was to beat Russia," she said. "We've just got to go out and do our best. We did a lot of things great. We just need to learn to finish and hopefully that will come in the next game."
Britain pulled off a friendly victory over their next opponents France during one of their final warm-up appearances in Sheffield last month, and Anderson said the team were looking forward to facing them again. She said: "We're definitely not going into any games worried and afraid. We can compete. We're just going to come out swinging again."
Britain stormed into a 12-2 lead but then slipped behind as the Russians hit their stride. The hosts trailed by 12 in the second half, but surged towards the finish and got to within three in the final minute before Russia's experience told.
Just as it was 48 hours before following the Canada loss, the players were left talking about the need for more composure in pressure situations.
"We battled really hard as a team," said Natalie Stafford, who led Britain with 18 points. "The Russians are a great basketball nation, a great team. We worked our butts off. It was just the end. Our inexperience cost us and we made some crucial errors down the stretch."
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