'The future's bright for British basketball,' says Buceta

'The future's bright for British basketball,' says Buceta

07 July 2019 / 18:50
Chema Buceta believes that his side's groundbreaking efforts at the 2019 women's EuroBasket could herald the beginning of a new era for British basketball.

Great Britain finished fourth after they were beaten 81-55 by hosts Serbia in the third-place play-off in Belgrade.

But the almighty silver lining is that no British basketball side, male or female, has ever gone further in Europe’s showpiece than Buceta’s charges, who had also already secured a place at next February’s World Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Hailing his squad as ‘role models’, a proud Buceta believes that British players – both present and future – shouldn’t be scared to shoot for the stars.

“We have to see the big picture and the big picture is that we are talking about qualifying tournaments – and that is amazing,” said the GB head coach.

“Of course, we would have liked to have won this game, and also against France [in the semi-finals] but we have to be very happy, really.

“I think there is no reason why Great Britain cannot have a better level of basketball because the potential is there.

“And especially, the players have shown in this tournament when they have the confidence, the trust, the empowerment, they can do great things.

“I think they are role models for the people. I think we have raised the level, the standard, and that it is very interesting.

“Even now, school teams are putting things on Twitter. I was sent a message from a school the other day saying they are really motivated.”

Temi Fagbenle led the way for GB with 23 points while Johannah Leedham totted up 10 rebounds – but Serbia proved too strong as they got their hands on the bronze medal in front of a home crowd.

They led 25-16 at the end of the first period and but Buceta’s side did shave the deficit to seven points by the halfway point.

But Serbia turned on the afterburners from there on out, scoring 21 points to GB’s three in the third period before eventually carving out a winning margin of 26, with Sonja Petrovic (14) and Nevena Jovanovic (11) leading the scoring.