Great Britain’s women will bid to reach next summer’s EuroBasket finals with a win over Greece on Saturday evening in Manchester – and keep their 2020 Olympic dreams alive.

Victory by three points or more would give Chema Buceta’s side an unassailable lead at the head of their group with one further game remaining.

And after the massive turmoil that has enveloped British Basketball off the court with boardroom coups and funding wrangles, it is a chance to give the sport a shot in the arm, veteran guard Rachael Vanderwal admits.

“It’s going to be huge for us. We’re on the up. We’re playing very good basketball. We have a full squad. We’re healthy. All our big guns are going to be there so it’s super exciting. If we do qualify for EuroBasket, I think we can make a statement there as well.”

The mathematics of Group D would be infinitely simpler should GB claim a head to head over the Greeks by avenging their 61-59 reverse in Kozani 12 months ago.

Win by two or less, and victory over Portugal at Belle Vue next Wednesday will be enough to send GB onward to Serbia or Latvia next year.

Defeat, however, would leave the hosts in a fight with Israel for a second place which will potentially offer no certainty until the final numbers determine the six runners-up spots with the best records out of the eight pools which also provide tickets to the finals.

The odds are in Britain’s favour but not cast-iron assurances.

“We’ve still got to do it,” Jo Leedham says. “Even though we’ve got a good advantage. We have three Euroleague players with Karlie Samuelson as well boosting our roster. It’s going to be really interesting.”

Listen to the MVP Cast conversations with Rachael Vanderwal and Jo Leedham

There will be an emotional factor for Saturday’s visitors with Styliani Kaltsidou set to end her international career for Greece at the close of these qualifiers in a similar vein to Azania Stewart who is likely to land her 100th cap in the contest before rounding off an illustrious career against the Portuguese in mid-week.

But GB’s frontcourt has the weaponry to prevail with Temi Fagbenle and Jo Leedham in fine form for Polish side Polkowice where Kaltsidou is a colleague.

“I don’t know if you’ve had two British players playing in Europe together at the same time,” Leedham asserts. “We’re in the Euroleague on the same team – that has to be a first.” More so that Fagbenle’s sensational play in her European club bow marks her out as the potential fulcrum.

But if the WNBA centre was one of the youngest members of the London 2012 Olympic crew, then some of her running mates from six years ago are heading towards the end and hoping for a glorious swansong at EuroBasket 2019, even if Tokyo 2020 is an ask too far.

The backcourt of Stef Collins and Vanderwal has been an engine that runs and runs. Leedham, forever balancing her physical health with patriotic duty, is in a constant fight to avoid logging too many miles.

“For me personally, I am getting older,” Vanderwal acknowledged. “This is maybe going to be my last major tournament so it’s motivation, not to only get there but to do well.”

Collins, still the captain, may feel likewise or be prepared to go on but these could be the final two opportunities to see GB’s dynamic guard duo in sync on home soil.

The double act keeps going strong, Vanderwal laughs.

“It’s kind of like we don’t ever leave. I’m like ‘hi Stef, it’s time.’ It feels like I saw her yesterday. We’ve been room-mates forever for GB. We’re just always on the same page.

“We’re two quiet people but we have similar interests, similar age, a lot in common. And on the court. We’ve always had a really good relationship. She’s great leader and she’s someone I’ve always looked up to.”

They’d all love two wins to celebrate and then a trip east to plan in eight months time.

Adds Vanderwal: “We’ve had some really good memories and hopefully we can have some good ones in November and June next year.”

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