GB defeated by China in opening Olympic qualifier

Head coach Chema Buceta reckons his GB women's basketball side showed signs they can compete despite losing 86-76 to China in their Olympic qualifying tournament.

In the opening game of the campaign for both sides, Great Britain’s women ultimately went down to defeat in Belgrade, Serbia despite battling valiantly.

They are in a four-team group alongside China, Spain and South Korea with the top three side sealing their spot at Tokyo 2020 this summer – making GB’s final two group games this weekend pivotal as they look to fulfil their Olympic dream.

GB came out the blocks quickly in Belgrade and had built a 26-21 lead after the first quarter, but China fought back and reduced Britain’s advantage to 46-43 at the break.

However, it was in the third quarter where the tables turned, and GB were punished as China raced into a 65-59 lead and despite trying to fight back, the Brits fell to a ten-point defeat.

Temi Fagbenle was the highest scorer for GB with 26 points, five assists and four steals, while Johannah Leedham-Warner was close behind on 19 points.

If successful in Serbia, this would be the first time Britain have qualified outright for the Olympic Games and Buceta hopes the narrow defeat will spur his side onto better things.

“It’s fantastic to be here playing against a team like China with a lot of experience,” Buceta said.

“We are ambitious, we want to win, and I think we have to be proud. Our team played a very good game against a very good team.

“Of course, we are not happy with the final result and there are things to improve but I think it was a very good sign to compete at this level.

“I hope this brings us experience for the next games against South Korea and Spain and then we are able to qualify because it’s our goal.”

Britain’s next match in group B is against South Korea at 1.30pm GMT on Saturday, where victory would put them firmly on track for Tokyo.

Sportsbeat 2020