GB make women's basketball history as they move one step closer to Tokyo

GB make women's basketball history as they move one step closer to Tokyo

04 July 2019 / 13:49
Veteran guard Stef Collins hailed the transformation of Great Britain's women's basketball team after they made history by becoming the first home nation to reach the Women's EuroBasket semi-finals with a 62-59 success over Hungary.

That eye-catching result in Belgrade carried even more significance as it confirmed GB’s place at a World Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Tokyo 2020 in February next year.

Temi Fagbenle starred once again with 29 points in a tense game, with the Brits just about managing to hold on to after they saw a seven-point lead evaporate in the closing minutes.

They will now meet France or Belgium in Saturday’s semi-finals.

Collins said: “It's crazy the journey we have been on since the start of the modern era of GB back in 2006; the Olympics and all the Final Rounds we have been to.

“The fact that two years ago, we exited in the first round and now, to be in a position to play for a medal and be in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament next year, speaks leaps and bounds about this group of players.”

Jose Maria Buceta’s side beat Montenegro 92-71 to qualify for the quarter-finals earlier this week after finishing second in Group A behind Spain with five points.

Buceta said: "This is fantastic but is an outcome of a great group of players. Teamwork and not looking at all the other things happening around us. Just focus and trust. We have to be very proud."

Johannah Leedham-Warner also played a leading role in the victory with 12 rebounds and eight assists.

She added: “I don't know if I can say that I expected this team to make the semi-finals but this team is just so special.

“We’re just enjoying the ride, man. We’re trying to get a medal now – we’ve actually got a chance.

"Chema is such a motivator. He is such a positive person that he just makes everyone feel good. It is so easy to play for him all the time and it is hard to find a coach that is like that. He has lifted the programme back up and is a breath of fresh air. 

"This is all a bit surreal but everybody has bought into the concept of what we are about. We are enjoying the moment. We know we don't play beautiful basketball. We do whatever it takes to get the win, although sometimes, we do make beautiful plays."

Sportsbeat 2019