The all-time leading caps holder as a player for Great Britain, Stef Collins has been making a huge impact as a coach for the National Team for some time now and is set to take to the side-lines once again this week as Chema Buceta’s side prepare to face Portugal and Greece in EuroBasket Women qualifying action.
We caught up with the GB legend ahead of Thursday night’s game to look ahead to both fixtures and reflect on how much she is enjoying the opportunity to coach the teams.
“It is great to be together again after what has been a long time since we last had a window to come together for GB, with over a year since our last games.” Collins said.
“We got the group in a few days early and got to work with the team and we’re all excited for two big games on the road against Portugal and Greece.
“I’m loving the opportunity to help coach this team. I obviously haven’t played for a few years now, but the National Team is my pride and joy and has been a huge part of my life since 2007 so it is really special to be here and continue to be a part of helping grow this programme.
“I know how these windows work, I know this program – where its been and where it wants to go – really well and I know the culture and the values that we want to instil and expect from everybody that is involved in this group, so I feel like I have a lot to give and a lot to support.”
“If we think we can then we will.”
Looking for their first victory of the campaign this week, GB have continued to welcome exciting new talent to the group as Kirsty Brown and Erin Jones have been a crucial part of the training camp roster, with Kennedy Leonard also returning to the GB fold for the first time since 2019 and Janice Monakana ending her short-lived retirement to reunite with the rest of the roster.
A positive camp in Manchester and Porto has seen the group prepare well for a duo of big fixtures in their quest to qualify for EuroBasket 2023 in Slovenia and Israel and Collins detailed the team’s mentality and focus in camp ahead of the action getting underway.
“Chema said it perfectly previously – if we think we can then we will. Our mantra has always been about that belief in ourselves and each other, and we know if we put things in the right place then anything is possible.
“We’ve been really pleasantly surprised with the new players that have come into the group for the first time. Erin Jones and Kirsty Brown have brought great enthusiasm, work ethic and openness to the group so I’m really excited to see how they progress through the week.
“We’re really happy to see Janice Monakana back as well – obviously she told everybody she was going to be retiring, but we’re really happy that this hasn’t been the case, and that she’s chosen to come back and play for the National Team as well.
“That’s testament to this program that she’s made that decision, I think, and her attitude is reflected throughout the roster: GB is everybody’s pride and joy and we all want to do everything we can to make sure this team is as successful as it can be both this week and in the future.”
You can watch the Great Britain’s Women’s National Team take on Portugal on Thursday (8:30pm) and Greece on Sunday (6pm) live and for free on FIBA’s YouTube channel.