Reaching EuroBasket is undoubtedly a highlight for the current crop of GB Women’s players, with the bi-annual tournament ranking as one of the top competitions in World basketball. Qualification was a significant achievement, but not one that represents the pinnacle for this side. The programme is also eager to involve a number of talented young players into the mix to help that success continue for years to come.
“We need to keep this culture, this hard work that we’ve always had. We might not be the most talented, but we’ll always work hard,” said Chantelle Handy, one of the current 2012 Olympians still in the GB squad. “I think if the young ones can adapt to what we’ve done, they can take over as the future goes on. So why not be some of the best in Europe? I don’t know why people think we’re just going [to EuroBasket] to play. We’re not going to visit. We’re going to do something.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by other members of the GB set up. The team aren’t planning on going to EuroBasket to make up the numbers, no matter the standard of the competition they’ll come up against. And part of that resolve stems from the younger players beginning to integrate into Coach Buceta’s squad and push for a place of their own.
WNBA’s Karlie Samuelson already represents a key part of the GB game plan despite her relatively recent introduction. This current EuroBasket squad also features a number of fresher faces, including former U16, U18 and U20 international Savannah Wilkinson, University of Colorado guard Kennedy Leonard, WBBL standout Janice Monakana and University of Tennessee graduate Cheridene Green. All four players, including Samuelson, are aged 24 or younger, signalling a youth movement is on the horizon. That’s a good thing, according to GB’s most capped player.
“It’s been great this campaign to have a lot of fresh, young players coming through that have played really nice basketball,” said Stef Collins, another 2012 Olympian who’s getting ready to take part in her 4th EuroBasket Finals. “Then we have the veteran crew that have been together for quite a few years now. It’s a nice mix and we’re feeling confident as a group.”
It’s likely that Buceta will opt for a more familiar line up when selecting his final 12 for this summer’s EuroBasket. The future for GB is already beginning to make waves though and the experience gained during this current camp is sure to help those young players once they do earn a place in Buceta’s long term plans.
Tickets for the Canada game on June 19th are still available and can be purchased here.