GB Women push hosts to the brink in narrow loss to Greece

Great Britain’s women produced a valiant late comeback to lose narrowly to Greece by two points, (61-59), in their second FIBA Women’s EuroBasket qualifier in Kozani.

Jo Leedham-Warner led the GB effort, with a double-double of 17 points and ten rebounds, while Temi Fagbenle was close behind with 16 and eight of her own.

The result leaves Great Britain well in contention in Group D to reach Serbia and Latvia, after Saturday’s heart-stopping victory over Israel.

Head Coach Chema Buceta began with the same starting five as per that win over Manchester, Leedham-Warner and Fagbenle, joined by Rachael Vanderwal, Azania Stewart and Stef Collins.

GB’s starters duly delivered with Fagbenle strong in the opener, which gave Britain a 13-6 lead at one stage midway through. A late rally from the home team, including a buzzer-beater 3 ensured that the game was levelled up at 13 after the first.

Neither team was proving adept at three-point shooting throughout the game, but a 7-0 Greece run at the start of the second ensured that GB were always playing catch-up. Two from the line from Vanderwal brought GB level with 1:22 on the clock.

Again, the teams were tied 26-26 inside the last minute after a Fagbenle layup. But two more Greece possessions brought them a four-points lead at the break.

The Greece lead of 30-26 was whittled down in the opening three minutes of the half, thanks to Chantelle Handy and Fagbenle. But in a tight game, the home team offered their passionate home crowd some cheer with another 7-0 run that produced a GB timeout.

Greece’s defence was marshalled tightly GB’s scoring potential but the gap only briefly hit double figures and the visitors were never entirely out of the game, trailing by just seven going into the last.

Britain would go toe-to-toe for the remainder of the final quarter, not giving an inch. The gap was still 5 when Fagbenle made the layup with 59 seconds left. A free throw cut the gap further, before a Leedham layup made it a two-point gap with 24 seconds on the clock.

GB opted not to foul, given the importance of the head-to-head, but couldn’t get a tying shot away in the four seconds remaining.

Source / Image: GB Basketball