GB basketball's Olympic hopes down to final day after comeback falls short
08 February 2020 / 16:35
Great Britain women's basketball's Tokyo dream is now hanging by a thread after they suffered an agonising 82-79 defeat to South Korea in their Olympic qualifying tournament.
Chema Buceta’s side, who lost to China in their opening game, would have sealed a historic trip to Tokyo 2020 with victory but fell just short in Belgrade, Serbia, meaning they must now beat reigning European champions Spain in their final game on Sunday to book their spot on the plane.
Great Britain, spearheaded by London 2012 Olympian Temi Fagbenle, who finished with a game-high 28 points, came from 17 points down in the fourth to set up a tense finale.
Just one point separated the two sides with less than a minute on the clock, but GB couldn’t swing the score and Korea held on to win by three.
Korea are now on the brink of joining China in Tokyo, Xu Limin’s side having qualified earlier on Saturday with victory over Spain, while GB must beat Spain on Sunday to advance.
GB's Chantelle Handy said: “We’ve got to turn it around fast. We cannot dwell on this game.
“We have to be fearless at this point because we still have a chance to go. We can play Spain, we played them twice close in the last year, so we’ve just got to go back to the hotel, scout and get ready for the next game.
"We knew how important this game was, but like I keep saying there’s another chance tomorrow. It’s not over.”
Great Britain immediately found themselves on the back foot after a dreadful start which saw Korea lead 25-19 at the end of the first quarter.
Had it not been for Karlie Samuelson sinking three successive three-pointers, the damage would have been worse, the shooting guard ensuring Korea’s 16-point lead was trimmed to 45-37 at the break.
It looked a long way back for GB as they trailed 78-61 with just over five minutes remaining, but a late flurry of scores set up a thrilling finale as it became a one-point game.
Buceta’s side couldn’t capitalise on their momentum and a costly turnover meant Korea scored to lead by three and GB were unable to find a three to send the tie to overtime.