Jennings upbeat for future as Butler looks to new challenge

24 June 2013 / 14:57

British coach Damien Jennings believes the ultimate dream of automatic Olympic qualification has been underlined by a second round exit at the women's EuroBasket.

Jennings succeeded experienced head coach Tom Maher, who stepped down after London 2012, where the British team lost all five of their group games.

However, he insists the future is bright after his team won their first-ever second round game at this level with a 85-79 victory over Croatia.

And he points to narrow defeats this summer to teams ranked fourth, fifth and tenth in the world as a sign of real progress and genuine Olympic legacy.

"We did make history as a Great Britain side, even though we didn't make it to the quarter-finals," said Jennings.

"We got our first win in the second round at a EuroBasket. We come out of this tournament three and three. There will be very few people who won't be saying we shouldn't have got this far or even a stage further."

Jennings though does rely heavily on star player Jo Leedham, who made a big impact at EuroBasket in her first games in national colours since last year's Olympics.

And while he believes the future can be promising, even if it takes take a couple of Olympic cycles to achieve his ambitions, Kim Butler brought the curtain down on her career at EuroBasket after 75 international appearances.

"A lot of people said this game wasn't for anything and it didn't matter but I definitely disagree with that," she told gbbasketball.com.

"We played for pride, we played for GB. GB Basketball has been through a hell of a journey in my eight years with the team.

"That is my last game, I'm definitely retiring. I couldn't be happier than to do it playing for Damian. He's seen the road, and all the ups and downs. The Olympics was my goal but now it's time to hang the boots up and move on."

© Sportsbeat 2013