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FRANCE END GB’S UNBEATEN START
- Updated: June 17, 2013
Pas de surprise. Great Britain were crushed 79-47 by France as their unbeaten start to EuroBasket Women was ended in their final game of the first round in Trelaze.
The Olympic silver medallists, as expected, were just too potent and they proved truly irresistible.
But there will be little time to dwell on the result, with Damian Jennings’ side immediately starting their preparations for the Czech Republic in their second round opener on Wednesday at Vendespace Arena in La-Roche-Sur-Yon.
It surely can’t be as tough a challenge as that provided by the tournament favourites on their home soil.
“It’s a tough situation and a pressure environment but I thought the girls coped really well and stepped up.” said Jennings.
“We’re learning still to add weight to some of the good things we do at the defensive end. There are great lessons to be had when you’re facing a team that is the best in Europe at the moment and one of the best in the world.”
An 8-0 run saw the hosts sweep 15-6 in front with 3:15 left in the first quarter as their huge front line threatened to overpower their rivals.
However GB responded with eight straight points of their own as a three-pointer from Jo Leedham – who had a game-high 13 points – cut the gap to 17-6.
It was as close as they would come again.
Valeriane Ayayi sparked a barrage of eleven consecutive points that moved Les Bleues advantage into double figures for the first time as their guests were held scoreless for over five minutes.
Down 33-22 at half-time, the British had to try to overcome foul trouble and the sheer physicality of the 2009 European champions. It proved impossible with turnovers piling up and opportunities to hit back kept down.
A 6-0 burst early in the third pushed France further in front, roared on by a capacity crowd at the Arena Loire.
And although Azania Stewart converted GB’s first free throws of the game, another run of six increased the margin to 49-32.
But the depth of the home team is a huge asset and they maintained their dominance, eventually easing as much as 34 clear after a late 25-5 burst.
And Jennings must now hope that there are no scars left as his squad move onward on Tuesday.
“It was always going to be a tough match-up for us,” said Leedham.
“France are a great team. They take one player off and they bring someone else with similar qualities. But I think we fought hard.
“At times, we got a little out of our brand and our culture of basketball. But we have to stay proud and of what we did here at this arena and just move forward.”
Isabelle Yacoubou led France with 11 points.
Earlier, Serbia defeated Latvia 62-56 to finish third in Group C and advance into the second round, eliminating the Latvians who committed three turnovers in the last minute to blow their hopes.
Elsewhere, reigning champions Russia crashed out after Spain’s victory over Sweden left them in fourth place in their group.
GB forward Chantelle Handy has signed for French club Nantes for next season, leaving Turkish side Mersin.
A/5 Montenegro 72-60 Ukraine
A/6 Turkey 66-48 Slovakia
Standings: 1. Turkey 3-0, 2. Montenegro 2-1, 3. Slovakia 1-2, 4. Ukraine 0-3
B/6 Russia 72-66 Italy
B/5 Sweden 49-73 Spain
Standings: 1. Spain 3-0, 2. Sweden 1-2, 3. Italy 1-2, 4. Russia 1-2
C/5 Serbia 62-56 Latvia
C/6 France 79-47 Great Britain
Standings: 1. France 2-0, 2. Great Britain 2-0, 3. Serbia 1-2, 4. Latvia 1-2
D/5 Lithuania 72-67 Belarus
D/6 Czech Republic 74-68 Croatia
Standings: 1. Belarus 2-1, 2. Czech Republic 2-1, 3. Croatia 1-2, 4. Lithuania 1-2
Pics: Mansoor Ahmed/BB