Great Britain battle valiantly but fall to Greece in Rhodes thriller
Chema Buceta’s Women’s team found themselves falling just short of victory after another entertaining encounter in EuroBasket Women’s qualifying action, with Greece running out 72-65 winners in Rhodes.
GB showed sustained spells of great play on both ends of the floor against the Greeks – who are unbeaten in the campaign thus far – but the hosts pulled away in the closing minutes of the game to secure a victory that Coach Buceta’s side will have felt was within their grasp.
The fact GB pushed their unbeaten opponents so far is testament to the performance the visitors delivered on the night, just a couple of days after their epic overtime win against Portugal which had surely taken a toll on the team.
The hosts started quickest, leading 18-12 after the opening stanza, but whilst GB’s offence hadn’t quite got going in the opening 10 minutes their defence was at a high level from the first tip as Greece had to work very hard for every point.
The second period saw the visitors roar into life as GB started the quarter with a 14-0 run that had the Greeks reeling, particularly given the variety of Great Britain’s scoring, with points in the paint coming from Temi Fagbenle, Azania Stewart and Kristine Anigwe, as well as some shrewd shooting and drives from the perimeter by the team’s forwards and guards to lead 31-38 at the half.
Foul trouble hindered GB’s efforts late in the second quarter and early in the third with players having to sit out for extended periods, which enabled the Greeks to draw it back to 49-50 with 10 minutes to go.
The visitors were right there with the hosts all the way until the closing stages of the game, but some crucial turnovers and Greece being in the bonus meant the hosts could eek out enough of a lead to see them to victory, but GB delivered a fantastic performance worthy of winning a very good game between two top teams.
Focus for Coach Buceta’s side now turns to the decisive February window, where Great Britain will have a two-game homestand against Portugal and Estonia to give themselves the best possible opportunity to qualify for EuroBasket 2023 in Israel and Slovenia.