Great Britain suffered their third loss and finished last in Group B of the FIBA Women's qualifying tournament following a 79-69 defeat to Spain and will not go through to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in Summer.
Losing to China and South Korea, team GB was relying on a victory over Spain to propel them to the main court in Tokyo. However, Spain, the reigning European champions, held their own in Belgrade and managed to push past a very determined GB.
Despite Karlie Samuelson's three-pointer leading the way for an early GB advantage, Spain fought hard and clawed their way to a two-point lead by the end of the first quarter.
Spain had extended its lead to 10 by half-time and 11 by the end of the third quarter at 60-49.
Joey Leedham-Warner put on a strong performance throughout and Britain's star player Temitope Fagbenle kept GB within 11 points as they approached the final quarter. Fagbenle scored 21 of GB's points against Spain and was named in the team of the tournament.
- We need more sportspeople like West Ham's Gilly Flaherty
- Meadow Park a sell-out for North London derby
- Storm Ciara causes chaos for women’s fixtures across UK
GB did achieve a small victory in winning the final quarter but it was not enough to tip them into the lead. Saturday's 82-79 defeat to South Korea cost them dearly here too as that would have been a strong win to capitalise on given that South Korea fall one place below them in the world rankings.
The BBC spoke to Chantelle Handy, Britain’s captain: “We did not get a ticket but I am proud we fought every game, we played hard together and we tried. Some people look at us and don’t think we should be here but we are here and we made a statement for GB basketball.
“We have sacrificed things like times with our family. The funding was not there but it did not matter. We have passion, we are like a family.”
Regardless of the strong and promising start, team GB will miss out on their first appearance at the Olympics after falling short for the third time. The team relied on emergency funding after losing its lottery funding following the 2012 Olympics and qualification for Japan was viewed as an essential element in future investment.News Now - Sport News