Great Britain women’s head coach Chema Buceta masterminded a perfect week as his side arrived back home with two vital road wins to leave them in good shape in the Eurobasket Women qualifiers ahead of the November window.
Wins away to Portugal and Israel have put GB on a 3-1 record in Group D, with two games at home to Greece and again to Portugal to come.
But what was incredible about the two wins was the determination of the women and need to make a game-changing run. They came from seven points down in the final quarter to beat Portugal, thanks to a 15-0 run, whilst holding the hosts scoreless in the final six minutes.
The Brits followed that up by edging Israel in Tel Aviv, four days later by scoring the first 11 points of the fourth quarter to take a 67-59 lead, which they never relinquished.
“It was a fantastic game and especially seeing the girls fighting so much,” explained Buceta. “Not only in the game, but in the whole camp to try and improve ourselves and make the team competitive, and then playing against a very good team in Israel.
“It was a very emotional game, but also a very wise game. We not only played hard, but we played with intelligence and I think our team played with a lot of patience to overcome the problems that the other team put on the court. I think we must be very proud of these girls, not only for the victory but also for the way we were able to get it.
“The key ingredients for the win were not to think about the score too much and just focus on it play-by-play. Sometimes we were down by seven points, at other points, we were eight points up. We didn’t panic. It was good to be cool and calm and understand the game. The fact that we switched defences a lot, helped to confuse the other team.
“The merit is for the players because they did a great job of understanding the game all the time and were able to play good defence. This was a very quick game and I thought our defence was the key.”
The women can now rest briefly before returning to their domestic duties. They will reconvene in November when they host Greece and Portugal, with GB in good form to land a spot at Eurobasket Women 2019, to be held in Serbia and Latvia.
Photo: Mansoor Ahmed