There may still be some time to go until the GB Women’s can suit up again to take to the court once more, but that hasn’t stopped some of our best and brightest players from accomplishing incredible feats across the world for their club teams.
Take Chantelle Handy as an example, who has just won the Baltic Women’s Basketball League (BWBL) with TTT Riga. She’s not just stormed to her own success, but the Olympian told us how overjoyed she has been to see her GB teammates securing big wins of their own all over the world.
“It’s funny because I was thinking the other day about those of us who have been in the programme for a long time, how we’re getting older, but then seeing these younger players and their success at the top, top level, and it is such a nice feeling,” she said.
“I’m talking about the likes of Temi Fagbenle and Karlie Samuelson who are really doing an awesome job in EuroCup and EuroLeague, then you’ve got the London Lions girls doing amazing things. It is incredible and with social media so powerful these days, these successes are going to be seen and are sure to inspire even younger players to believe that they can achieve these fantastic things.
“It has been amazing to watch, from knowing what it was when I was younger to what it is now, but I just hope they all keep smashing it, because there is a lot of talent out there for the future and I’m excited to see what they can all do.”
“We’ve been competing against the best every single week.”
While Fagbenle and Samuelson have won cups in Turkey and Spain respectively in recent weeks, Handy’s team in Latvia have done a sterling job on a domestic and continental level this year as they’ve won the BWBL and competed excellently in the FIBA EuroLeague.
The GB veteran reflected on the season she and her team have had, as well as why it has been such a successful year.
“This weekend we won the Baltic Championship, and any championship win is an amazing achievement. We’ve gone through a lot this year, we’ve played in the EuroLeague and probably done better than people expected, and we should be very proud of what we’ve done as a team.
“We’ve been competing against the best every single week, we’ve really had to grit it out because it has been hard, but all you can do is go out there and fight and I think that’s what we’ve done very well and why we’ve won the game we won.
“We ended up going to the last eight in EuroLeague – yes, because Russian teams had to pull out due to the situation in Ukraine, but we still put ourselves in the position to take advantage of that – and the overall results we’ve had have been a huge success for the club.”
“It is time for them to shine.”
There has been much excitement surrounding the women’s programme for some time, given the swell of young talent that is bubbling away on the fringes of the squad, primed to burst into life and cement their place in Chema Buceta’s side.
Handy is as eager as the rest of the British Basketball community to see these young players flourish, and spoke of her confidence that this next generation of talent can take the team forward in years to come and continue to have success.
“We know how hard we’ve worked to get this programme to where it is as players and staff and we don’t want to see that going to waste, so whatever we can do to push these young players to be their best selves when they come to GB Camp, we’re going to do it,” she added.
“We have such a strong culture in the team – that ‘GB Way’ – with a core group of girls that understands what it takes to play at the international level and to get it done, what it is like to always be the underdogs, so we’re always prepared.
“We might not win games sometimes and we might make mistakes, but we’re so proud of the young players because we want them to take the reins and be successful. They’ve proven that they can do it, so it is time for them to shine.”
“It is very different to five-on-five.”
Whilst there are no confirmed fixtures for GB’s Women in the five-on-five game until the Autumn, the small-sided 3×3 alternative is set to take centre stage this summer as GB once again prepare to take part in the FIBA Europe Cup qualifiers.
Handy was a cornerstone of the side that went undefeated in qualifying for last year’s competition, and she reflected on the experience of representing her nation in the 3×3 format.
“I remember when the prospect of playing 3×3 for GB started to come to the fore and I was adamant I’d never play it because I thought it wasn’t my thing and it was the wrong time for me, but then Stef (Collins) called and asked me to come to camp.
“I was reluctant because I wasn’t sure I could keep up with the pace of it, to be honest, but I actually really enjoyed it because it is very tactical too and you have to be very smart to play it at a high level, so I enjoyed it much more than expected and ended up being selected for the Europe Cup Qualifiers.
“We did really well, we were undefeated, we qualified to go to Paris for the Finals, and our chemistry was amazing. It is very different to five-on-five, but I am definitely looking forward to the summer, attending the camps coming up and seeing what happens.”
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