After successfully navigating the group stages of the most competitive Women’s EuroBasket to date, Great Britain’s biggest test so far awaits this evening as Chema Buceta’s side take on the defending champions, Serbia, in the Quarter-final Qualification game, and Assistant Coach Vanessa Ellis insists the team are ready for battle.
“They’re the defending champions, but they won that title two years ago and that team has changed since then just like ours has.” Ellis said.
“They’re one of the biggest names in basketball, but they’re a team with five players on the court like us, so why can’t we beat them? We’ve got talent, we’ve got passion, we’ve got a great team and we’ll do everything we can to win.
“We want to progress in the competition and that only gets more and more difficult for every team the deeper you go into the tournament. We’re a team of fighters, we’ve shown real character in every game when things have gone against us and we’ve had an opportunity to win every game we’ve been in. It’s just about putting it all together.
“We’ve played some great basketball so far and done some great things together on the court, but we’ve got to maintain that level for as long as we can. We have a challenge in front of us facing Serbia, but we’re confident in ourselves and our ability and we’re ready to go out there and compete to win the game.”
A new-look roster has acquitted themselves incredibly well in the competition thus far, with only three players of the 12 having had any experience of a Women’s EuroBasket previously – Temi Fagbenle, Erin McGarrachan and Harriet Ottewill-Soulsby – and three others winning their first competitive caps for GB in the competition.
Having been together for just over three weeks at this stage, with Kiki Herbert-Harrigan and Kristine Anigwe involved with the team for even less time than that, the way the group has competed against established sides has been remarkable, with Ellis putting the team’s progression into context.
“It’s a testament to the group and how competitive they’ve been that there’s only Temi who has got any sort of long-term experience of this level – although Harriet and Erin were involved in EuroBasket a few years ago – but otherwise we’ve got people with single figure caps, so it’s quite an inexperienced team but there’s no denying this group is very talented.
“The way this group has come together has been amazing when you look at the roster and how different it is from even the team that qualified for this competition just a few months ago. It’s not easy to compete at this level with an established team so for this group to have done as well as they have is a testament to them in such a short space of time.
“This is one of the biggest and most difficult tournaments in the world to be a part of, and this has been one of the most competitive EuroBaskets ever. Just to get here was a great achievement but what we’ve done is show we belong here and that we can compete with the best. We could have won all three group games but our focus is now fully on Serbia and showing our best selves against them.”
Great Britain take on Serbia tonight (Tuesday) at 8pm BST in the Qualification round for the Quarter-finals of Women’s EuroBasket 2023. You can watch the game live on our streaming service, GB Basketball TV, and show your support for Great Britain as they look to take down the defending champions.