Great Britain’s women lost 78-66 to Brazil as the first round of the Olympic Games women’s competition came to a close on Sunday, departing London 2012 with ample credit but without a win to their name.
Tom Maher’s side fell behind late in the second quarter and never came back as Brazil took a consolation victory before their own exit in a battle of Group B’s two bottom teams.
Unlike in previous games, there was little to take from GB’s display as they were taken apart in a lacklustre end to a summer which has seen them win admirers, as well as hearts and minds.
“We deserved to lose,” admitted Maher, who will now await word on whether he will be offered a new deal. ”The GB programme is a four-year programme. They will prepare reviews and select a coach based on that. GB is in the game now. They want to qualify for Rio in their own right.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here. I like the professionalism of how it’s run so I would be keen to be considered again. I’ve had a fantastic time and enjoyed Britain and would seriously consider it if an offer came along.”
The Australian has achieved much but the sense is he may move on. It was not the result he, or his players, would have wished for.
Natalie Stafford led GB with 14 points.
After a sluggish start where GB found themselves down 5-0 early, free-throws from Azania Stewart got the Olympic hosts off the mark and a transition bucket from Natalie Stafford cut the deficit to 5-4.
Britain were behind mid-way through the first 13-8 thanks to a three from Brazil’s Karla Costa but they fought back through Stafford and Stef Collins then tied the game at 19-19 with a triple of her own that ultimately would be the final score of the first quarter as both teams dried up in the last minute.
Rose Anderson got the second quarter off to a good start with a triple, Brazil reeled off five quick points to edge ahead 24-22 when Leedham tied the game at 24-24 with a nice backdoor cut and reverse lay-up.
Brazil though were determined inside and Erika Sousa scored to open the South American’s lead to 32-28 with 3:39 left of the second. Chantelle Handy countered with a three and later on Julie Page hit a three a tie the game at 36.
In her final game before retirement, Adriana Pinto though hit back to end the second quarter with a huge triple to put Brazil 39-36 up at half-time.
Turnovers haunted Great Britain to start the third quarter as Pinto and a three-point play from Franciele Nascimento extended Brazil’s lead to 45-36. Kim Butler answered back with a three of her own to narrow the gap to 45-39. And Brazil though kept attacking the Brits with a lay-up from Joice Rodrigues which gave them a 51-41 lead with 6:01to play in the third as Tom Maher was forced to call a timeout.
Unfortunately the timeout had little effect, Brazil were composed and led 64-53 at the end of the third.
Both sides looked tired in the opening exchanges of the fourth, Brazil though edged further ahead. Azania Stewart tried to claw GB back in the latter stages but it wasn’t to be.
“Each one of us is very competitive so to finish the tournament without a win is very disappointing,” said Julie Page.
“We can be proud of how we played on the court. We competed with the best teams in the world.”
Clarissa Santos and Erika Sousa led Brazil with 16 points each.
Elsewhere, the Czech Republic took the final quarter-final place, defeating Angola, while the USA and France are the only two teams to emerge with 5-0 records from the group stage.
So Tuesday’s quarter-finals are:
France v Czech Republic, Turkey v Russia – Australia v China, USA v Canada.
It means there can be no successive final between the USA and Australia after they ended up on the same side of the bracket.
Other Games: France 65-54 Russia, Angola 47-82 Czech Rep, Canada 63-72 Australia, China 66-114 USA, Croatia 65-70 Turkey
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