The dream of reaching Tokyo for Great Britain's women's basketball team came to an end as they were defeated 79-69 by Spain in their Olympic qualifying tournament in Belgrade.
Having lost their two previous games to China and South Korea, Chema Buceta’s side went into Sunday’s game with European champions Spain knowing they had to win to book their place in Japan this summer.
And GB’s Temi Fagbenle, named in the All-Star Five for the tournament, starred with 21 points as Buceta’s team went toe-to-toe with Spain in the first quarter.
But, as the match went on, Spain’s quality shone through and an advantage of around ten points was maintained throughout the rest of the contest.
The result means South Korea join Spain and China in qualifying for Tokyo from Group B, but despite the GB disappointment Buceta believes the future is bright for his side.
GB head coach Buceta said: “It has been a great privilege to work with these girls, the atmosphere was always great and they were always ambitious.
“We are together all the time despite what happened and of course we are upset about this result but we have to be happy with the experience we’ve gained.
“I have to thank everybody that has been involved with the team, and the fans back home, they have been very supportive.
“We have to look to the future, this team has proven it is possible that they can do great things.
“We have to be ambitious and then maybe next time we’re at this table we will be celebrating going to an Olympic games.”
Spain came out of the gate quickly, surging into a 14-7 lead midway through the first quarter.
But, following a time out, the British team recovered from their slow start as a more patient gameplan brought results with Fagbenle’s six points and four from Chantelle Handy reducing the gap to two at 18-16 behind after the first quarter.
At the start of the second quarter, Spain scored four straight points without answer thanks to scores from Marta Xargay and Queralt Casas but once more the deficit was reduced to two – this time after a Johannah Leedham layup.
Xargay’s free throws, Maria Conde’s jump shot and Laia Palau’s two points though saw the Spanish side stretch their legs and open up a 29-20 lead.
And Spain’s ruthlessness on the two pointers continued as they went into half-time with a ten-point advantage at 40-30 ahead.
The third quarter went much the same way as the rest of the match, despite the British team finding six consecutive points, and they needed a massive comeback at the death from 60-49 behind.
The fourth and final quarter began well for GB, with Karlie Samuelson registering three free throws before Handy’s driving layup and Samuelson’s later scores got them back to within eight points of Spain, threatening another comeback.
But, despite a late rally, Buceta’s side just couldn’t do enough to get past Spain – losing by ten points in the end.