New faces on the team are always exciting for everybody – fans, coaches and players alike – especially when it’s one of the calibre of Sydney Wallace, who has competed at the highest level both in the States and over here in Europe in a storied career.
Three days into her first camp with Coach Chema Buceta’s side in preparation for Women’s EuroBasket 2023, we sat down with the 29-year-old floor general to reflect on her time with the National Team so far, and look ahead to a busy few weeks.
“I’ve only been here a few days but it’s been a great experience so far.” Wallace said.
“Meeting new people, learning a new system and becoming part of a new team is always a fun opportunity. We’ve had some really great practices already, I feel like we’re coming together quickly and I’m excited to be here.
“When you go to a new team there’s a lot to learn both on and off the floor. I knew Temi (Fagbenle) beforehand and knew of Shequila (Joseph), so that helped, but I’m still learning them and they’re still learning me, but I feel like we’re working through that really quickly.
“We’ve got great talent all over the floor who can play both inside and outside, so it’s a really well-balanced group and I’m excited to see what we can do together.”
A veteran point guard with EuroLeague, EuroCup and WNBA experience, Wallace brings a wealth of expertise to the training camp roster.
Ahead of her first games for Great Britain next week, where Wallace will take part in preparatory friendlies for EuroBasket against Czech Republic in Prague, the floor general discussed her approach to the camp, as well as how much she has already enjoyed working with Coach Buceta in such a short space of time.
“I’m here to give everything I can to the team and do the extra things, communicating, helping to lead and bringing what I have learned to the table. I want to win, I expect us to win, we’ve made some good steps so far and we’ll keep going from there.
“This is a great opportunity for me [on a first camp], but also for all of us. Not everybody gets the chance to play for a National Team or even have a shot at qualifying for an Olympics, so we’ve got to embrace that opportunity, have fun, compete and try to win because we’re capable of doing that and being successful.
“Chema is a great coach with a great personality. You can tell he really cares about the individual needs of his players and how to get the best out of them. Practice has been great, I love the structure of them, and we’ve seen a lot of high-quality performances in the sessions.”
After heading to Prague, the team will return to Manchester to continue camp before venturing to France for two final friendlies ahead of Women’s EuroBasket, where GB will face the French again, as well as Germany and Slovenia in the group stages.
Wallace is well-versed in French basketball, having played in the country professionally in recent years for Montpellier, and discussed the challenge they’ll pose, as well as the other teams in the group, but echoed the thoughts of fellow guard Gabby Nikitinaite in insisting the team will rise to all challenges.
“We know it’s going to be a big challenge but it’s one we’ve got to look forward to.” Wallace said.
“We’re going against some of the best players and teams in the world, so of course it is going to be challenging, but situations like this are good for us and push us to be better and see how good we can be both on and off the court.
“I played in France in the 2021/22 season and we had a few National Team players on that squad, so I know them really well – a strong, competitive and athletic team.
“Germany and Slovenia will be tough as well, and I’m familiar with a few teams on the other side of the bracket, so I’m expecting it to be tough but we’re ready for that and to show what we can do.”
Further information on where you can tune in to watch Great Britain in action at Women’s EuroBasket 2023 will be shared in due course, as well as any watch information for the friendly fixtures against Czech Republic and France on June 1, 2, 9 and 10 respectively.