Standard Life Great Britain Women started their EuroBasket Qualifying campiagn with a 76-67 defeat to an impressive Slovak Republic side at Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena.

Slovakia were led by Luisa Michulkova, who scored 19 points – while Johannah Leedham scored 17 in defeat.

Slovakia Head Coach, Pokey Chatman was, in the end, happy with the win. But, admits that the frantic and nervous start should have been prevented: “Both teams were a little anxious, lots of turnovers and everyone playing at a frantic pace. But, I’ll take a win on the road anyday.” Chatman commented.

Her opposite number, Tom Maher was gracious in defeat, but blames defensive transition for his side’s loss: “In transition, we blew it.” He claimed.

“We missed shots, and you can’t live with it, you have to run back – and that’s what killed us.” He added.

The visitors started off the better of the two teams, as they raced to a 10-0 run to begin. A timeout by GB coach, Tom Maher worked wonders, as the Brits then answered with a Johannah Leedham inspired 14-0 run, as the WNBA Draftee scored eight of those points. Slovakia came back – and took a one-point lead at the end of one. (16-17).

The hosts took the inititive in the second, building a lead of five. Julie Page doing damage inside. But, the Slovakians came back through solid baseline shooting of Katarina Hrickova. GB’s Rose Anderson finished the half with four straight points, as the hosts led 36-34 at the half.

Slovakia though came back strong in the third, as Lucia Kupcikova gave the visitors the lead with an and-one bucket inside. They built their lead towards the end, as Luisa Michulkova hit a buzzer-beating triple to end the third, giving the visitors a 56-48 lead.

The visitors continued the pressure in the final stanza, as they built a 14-point lead mid-way. But, Tom Maher’s side pressed – and brought it to within seven. But the visitors held their nerve to close the game out.

John Hobbs for – in Birmingham