Point guard Georgia Jones is determined to capitalise on Great Britain’s success at the summer’s EuroBasket Women – on and off the court.
The Mancunian will use GB’s fourth place as motivation to do even better as the team heads into the qualifying phase the next edition of the tournament – which takes place in 2021 – and prepares for February’s Olympic qualifying event.
A place at Tokyo 2020 would be a huge coup for coach Chema Buceta and his players who surprised many observers with their performances in Latvia and Serbia.
But as GB prepare to travel to Poland on November 14 then face Belarus in Manchester on November 17 in EuroBasket Women qualifiers, Jones also wants to use the team’s current impetus to raise awareness about the women’s game and help generate increased support and funding.
The Manchester Mystics players is an integral part of Basketball England’s All Girls campaign, which aims to raise awareness and opportunity for the female game – and celebrate the successes of the GB team.
She said: “One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals. I am so proud of what Great Britain accomplished at Women’s EuroBasket this summer. The team secured our place in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament by finishing fourth in Europe – the best any of our national teams has ever done. It feels like a moment for us to celebrate. And it is.
“But looking at the bigger picture of women’s basketball at the elite level in the UK, it is simply a step on the road. I’m so excited to continue the journey we are on and to see how far this team can go. Our united group of players and staff has achieved a great thing after putting in years of hard work, lately with limited resources.
“It follows England’s silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games – another major milestone I was proud and privileged to be part of. That success and our positive performance at Women’s EuroBasket showed what we are capable of. But it also threw up some issues that must be addressed if we are to progress further.
“Now is the moment for us to raise them – as we bid to build on them and achieve more. Our unity, drive and hard work as players and coaches is vital, but we also need greater national media spotlight on the game and increased funding to plan for the future and operate professionally.”
Jones is keen for the country’s mainstream media to get behind basketball.
She added: “Myself and my GB team-mate Hannah Shaw and assistant coach Vanessa Ellis recently appeared on BBC TV’s Sportsday programme to raise these issues. And, with a year to go until an Olympic Games at which we will hopefully be present, we have to do more than enjoy what we have done so far.
“We have to use the opportunity to shout loud about our brilliant sport – one that is played and enjoyed by so many people in this country – push for greater recognition in our national media and lobby for the funding that could push the sport forward. All that and win some more basketball games!”
Get tickets for GB v Belarus at the National Basketball Performance Centre HERE