GB Women will face China, Spain and South Korea in February’s Olympic qualifiers in Foshan.

The long haul trip for the only non-European pool was the worst-case scenario for Chema Buceta’s side who will, in likelihood, have to defeat the Koreans to claim one of the three berths at Tokyo 2020 available.

“It is fantastic that we are able to compete at this very high level after securing fourth place at EuroBasket this summer,” Buceta said.

“Now, we have to be ambitious and do our best to qualify.

“All teams in our group are good and all games will be difficult, but we have shown we are able to beat good teams if we play aggressive defence, wise offence, support each other and are positive.”

Schedule (times tbc)
Thursday 6 Feb v China
Saturday 8 Feb v Korea
Sunday 9 Feb v Spain

With the hosts set to be massively prepared, and Spain confident as EuroBasket champions last summer, the second contest, against the Koreans, is likely to provide GB with a winner-take-all play-in for the Olympics.

Apart from the arduous 22-hour trip to Foshan, the main worry from Buceta and his coaching staff have is that both Asian teams will have lengthy build-up spells together, whereas the Spaniard has already had to petition FIBA to enforce an early release for that window  – all the more vital with travel removing two days of precious practice time.

“They’re going to be tough, tough games in February,” admits GB guard Rachael Vanderwal, one of six remnants from the 2012 Olympic team.

“We have to stay together. Stay positive. And keep the mindset that we’ve had all along. Sticking together when it gets tough and fighting our way through it.

“But it’s so exciting for us. It’s a huge accomplishment for us to be there. And we want to go. Tokyo is the biggest stage, The Olympics is the biggest stage and we’re going to do everything we can to get that ticket.”

UK Sport chief executive Sally Munday hints extra funding may be found to help with the costs of a Tokyo bid despite the sport’s exclusion from the main pot of Lottery funds.

She said: “Basketball were in receipt of an Aspiration Award to help them on their journey to qualifying. We’ve got ongoing conversations with them over how we get them in the best possible place for qualifying.

“They did really well in their recent competitions. And we’re right behind them in terms of qualification and we’ll be having discussions with them in terms of how we can support.”

Women’s Qualification Tournaments

Belgrade: Serbia, USA, Nigeria, Mozambique
Bourges: France, Canada, Brazil, Puerto Rico
Foshan: China, Spain, Great Britain, S Korea
Ostende: Belgium, Australia, Japan, Sweden

Men’s Qualification Tournaments

Belgrade, Serbia

Group A – Dominican Republic, New Zealand, Serbia
Group B – Puerto Rico, Italy, Senegal

Kaunas, Lithuania

Group A – Lithuania, S Korea, Venezuela
Group B – Poland, Slovenia, Angola

Split, Croatia

Group A – Germany, Russia, Mexico
Group B – Tunisia, Croatia, Brazil

Victoria, Canada

Group A – Greece, China, Canada
Group B – Uruguay, Czech Republic, Turkey

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