A stunning individual performance from Chantelle Handy was the highlight of Great Britain’s final EuroBasket Women qualifier, which saw them win 97-55 in Albania.
The 29 year-old Olympian produced 22 captivating minutes in Tirana, from which came a magnificent 31 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals, but that shouldn’t distract entirely from a determined, combined performance from a team looking to go out with pride.
Despite GB’s qualification fate being sealed, there was little evidence on court in Tirana. Handy began the game with Jo Leedham absent, alongside Ella Clark, Rachael Vanderwal, Azania Stewart and Stef Collins in the starting five.
Chema Buceta’s side raced into an 8-0 lead in the opening four minutes, before Savannah Wilkinson made an impressive entrance. The 6’1 forward, who is committed to Florida State in the NCAA from next season, added six points in an intriguing cameo with another name for the future, Jamila Thompson seeing early game time.
After finishing the 1st quarter 25-16 up, Britain refused to let their stranglehold loose and added another 22 points before halftime. It was a dominant display which left the Albanians struggling, especially in defending the paint.
Inside ten minutes on court, Wilkinson had seven points and six rebounds, while Handy and Vanderwal had seven to their account as well. A 47-27 lead did not favour the British.
But it was Chantelle Handy who stole the show after the half. Handy, currently playing club basketball in Slovakia, lit up Tirana with 24 second-half points across the court. There were plenty of GB players contributing themselves, but the 6’2 forward left them all in their wake.
68-42 up going into the final quarter, it would be more one-way traffic before the close of the international year.
While the ex-Sheffield Hatter’s figures bear scrutiny regardless of the opposition, Clark’s 16 points, C’s 15, and 9 for Stewart were impressive too. That doesn’t include Wilkinson’s 9 points and 10 rebounds, which impress further after her performance against Italy on Saturday.
GB finish with a 3-3 record and while they will not be in the Czech Republic for next summer’s Finals, more performances like this will see them climbing the rankings rather quickly.
Source: GB Basketball
Image: Joe Pinchin