A wonderful European Championship campaign saw GB’s women take home bronze, with victory over France, to cap a great week’s work in Tenerife.
The tournament began in heartbreaking fashion, GB losing their opening pool fixture 43-45 to medal rivals, Germany – Helen Freeman (14p) and Amy Conroy (12p) both in double-figures for GB. Not to be deterred, the squad brushed off any lingering doubts to defeat France 56-52 in another tight contest – Jude Hamer (18p), Helen Freeman (15p) and Joy Haizelden (10p) led the team in points. There was, however, a further blow in the pool stage, the Dutch proving too strong, as the team fell 35-63 to record their second defeat in only their third game – Helen Freeman (14p) the only GB player in double-figures. Displaying characteristic resolve, the squad ended the pool stage in dominant fashion: victories over Turkey (66-22) and Spain (71-40) ensured a 3rd place pool finish and a semi-final match-up with the Dutch. Amy Conroy’s 22 points against Spain was the team’s highest individual output of the group stage.
A much improved showing against the Dutch, in the semi-final, fell just short (42-59) as GB’s hopes of a final berth was ended. Competitive from start to finish, the squad ended the contest with their heads held high knowing they had left it all on the court. Amy Conroy’s double-double (15p-10r) proved the high spot.
With no time to feel sorry for themselves, the team were back on court 48 hours later to face France in the bronze medal contest. Buoyed by their recent success against France, GB looked confident and composed from the outset. Able to impose their will on both ends of the court, the team were able to keep France at arm’s length and control the tempo of the game – the result (68-37) never in doubt, Bronze medal secured. Helen Freeman (27p-10r) and Amy Conroy (18p-10r) both recorded double-doubles.
Although understandably disappointed at missing out on the chance to play for gold, the squad will no doubt be happy to be heading home with a medal and the knowledge that the gap between themselves and the top teams in the world continues to shrink.