Monakana stars as Great Britain top Argentina in Minsk Opener

Great Britain’s senior women pulled off a heart-stopping 57-56 victory over Argentina in Minsk, to kick off a four-team tournament in fine style. Read GB Basketball’s summary below.

22 year-old Londoner Janice Monakana led the GB scoring with 12 points and was crucial down the stretch, and along with experienced captain Stef Collins, overturned a deficit of 7 points with 4:50 remaining. Azania Stewart contributed 11 points and 6 rebounds, while Chantelle Handy added 8 points and 10 rebounds.

The head coach made two changes from a narrow two point warm-up to hosts Belarus – Stewart and the equally experienced Rachael Vanderwal (pictured) came in for Erin McGarrachan and Hannah Shaw.

Handy – who with Collins and Melita Emanuel-Carr – continued in the starting five, and got the first points of the game against a team ranked higher than GB in the FIBA world rankings.

Stewart and Emanuel-Carr produced their opening points, stretching GB’s lead to four at one point, but the Argentines were never out of it and led 14-13 at the end of the first.

It was 18-18 when Collins produced her first points in the second. This tight affair continued to be that way, with Stewart’s two from the line nudging GB back in front, with 4:54 remaining in the half.

The 6’4 centre had a game-high 9 points by this stage, but Vanderwal levelled from the line to 25-all and after a GB timeout with 2:41 left, Buceta’s charges were trading blow for blow with their opponents.

The fact that GB squeezed out a half-time lead of 33-29 – the biggest of the game – showed just how tight the half had been.

Early pressure from GB also earned quick Argentina fouls at the start of the 3rd and Monakana’s three free throws ensured a lead of 3. Defence was clearly on top, with both sides’ shooting percentage slipping to below 35%, midway through the 3rd.

Macarena Rosset’s jumper from inside the arc for Argentina made it 39-all, with 4:21 left in the quarter, where points were a rare commodity for either side. 10 of the 25 points came in the final 2 minutes, but a 45-42 margin was far from insurmountable.

Neither side could impose themselves in the opening two minutes of the final quarter, with neither able to break through. But Rosset broke the deadlock for the Argentinians with two from the line and a layup, to move them seven clear – the biggest margin of the game. After Buceta called time with 5:51 in the game, the need for a response was evident.

Monakana’s jumper for 3 reduced the deficit for a time, captain Collins followed suit and it was Monakana who would tie the game with 2:56 left to play.

Both sides exchanged buckets so GB trailed by a point, going into the last minute. Two clutch free throws from Monakana got GB back in front with 26 seconds left.

After a timeout, Argentina inevitably went to Rosset but she missed the jumper under serious pressure from Handy and while Monakana couldn’t land two more from the line, it didn’t matter.

Note: Report written by GB Basketball.

Image: FIBA Europe
Source: GB Basketball