The GB Women’s team took another step closer to Eurobasket Qualification when they defeated Greece by two points 79-77, in another thrilling match in front of a vocal home support at the National Basketball Performance Centre in Manchester.
GB started the game on full throttle, playing tough defence and patient and positive offence. They won the first quarter 16 -8. The second quarter was a mirror of the first, GB never allowed the Greek team to settle and ended the quarter 23 – 17, with an overall half time lead of 14 points.
They say basketball is a game of two halves and this is exactly what happened. Greece were a different team at the start of the second quarter, forcing errors from GB and with some great shooting racked up 33 points. GB dug deep and regained momentum keeping the baskets ticking over but at the end of the quarter were only three points up at 61-58. The tension in the hall was building as both sets of supporters got behind their teams, as the fourth quarter began.
The game flowed from end to end, Greece pulling level on a couple of occasions and with the scores at 77-74 in the last 15 seconds , Joe Leedham, stole the ball and scored to give GB a five point lead and at that point qualification to Eurobasket.
This roller coaster of a game had not finished in pushing the emotion level in the hall to another level.
The Greek offence looked for a three point shot and drew the foul, putting no 9 Evanthia Maltsi on the line with 4.7 seconds remaining. Despite the game being delayed for at least a minute due to a technical issue on the scoreboard, Maltsi coolly scored her three free throws, 79 -77 to GB.
Both teams then called Time Outs with substitutions and the game restarted with GB having the ball on the side line in the Greek front court.
GB were unable to get players free and a forced pass saw the ball stolen, but the Greek pass was then intercepted and out on the side for a Greek throw in, two seconds remaining. The noise level in the hall from both sets of supporters was raised again. GB stayed solid in defence, filling the passing lanes and getting a hand on the inbound pass and knock the ball away and that ended the game.
It was an epic match ending with the crowd on their feet, and breathless, warmly applauding both teams on the buzzer.
The GB team worked tirelessly as a unit for each other in offence and defence and the leading points scorers were Joe Leedham on 21 points, including 12 from 13 at the Free Throw line, Georgia Jones with 16 points and Chantelle Handy 14 points. Overall the GB team were 18 from 21 at the free throw line, a strong statistic when games go to the wire.
GB now face Portugal on Wednesday 21st November, 2018, at 7pm in the National Basketball Performance Centre, Manchester, where a win guarantees qualification for next years Eurobasket. Some tickets are still available.