Great Britain’s women booked their place in the second phase of the EuroBasket finals, sweeping past Israel 74-51 in what was an elimination game for both in Bydgoszcz.

Both came in winless. Tom Maher’s side took the victory they needed in some style. Led by assured scoring from Jo Leedham – who hit a game-high 18 points – and Kim Butler, and solid interior defence, GB used a run of 15 unanswered points midway through the first half to propel themselves ahead for good.

Israel, now without a single win in 20 years at these championships, head home while Britain now prepare for their next game here on Thursday, having earned themselves a prolonged stay and a chance of further exposure at international level.

“We knew it was going to be a battle because it was do or die,” said GB point guard Stef Collins. “We really wanted go get through to the second round as this was our debut appearance at EuroBasket Women. We are heading in the right direction and can now look forward to the next game.

“The spirit is very high and especially when you think about where we have come from during the last couple of years. This is where we want to be. These next games are going to be a real challenge.”

Pitted against a side who they matched up with physically, GB saw the lead changed hands four times in the first quarter before they produced a decisive surge.

Nat Stafford, having gone 1-14 in the opening two group games, finally ignited to provide an early boost. Then Leedham, coming off the bench, draw her side level at 11-11 with a three-pointer before Julie Page put GB ahead for good with the final score of the opening period.

GB were able to celebrate at the end (MAP Photos)

It was the start of a run of 15 unanswered points from which the Israelis could not rebound.

Down 37-24 at half-time, they were helpless as Butler and Julie Page ruled the paint, opening up further opportunities for Leedham to capitalise from outside.

And with a 57-34 advantage headed into the fourth, they were able to cruise to a result which secured third place in the pool.

“It was a dream to win that game because it was a big, big game for us,” said Maher.

“Even I was very nervous because I looked at their players like Shay Doron and Liron Cohen and they are such great players so I knew it would be hard for us. However we just knuckled down and it was a comfortable win in the end. I think our performances here so far have been terrific.

“To get within 15 points of Belarus and Czech Republic is reaching a high level for us. None of our players are ever going to make any European All Star line-up that’s for sure, we’re just a hard working team. We have to play together as a group. The rebounding was 46 to 25 and that was a team stat for us, that’s the sort of team we are. I really think we have had three fabulous results so far.”

Shay Doron led Israel with 15 points.

Later, the Czech Republic secured top spot in the group, withstanding a late barrage from Belarus to escape with a 67-62 win.

Day 3 Results

Group A: Slovakia 57-46 Lithuania, Russia 80-65 Turkey

Final standings (Top 3 progress into Round 2): 1. Lithuania, 2. Russia, 3. Turkey – 4. Slovakia

Group B: Great Britain 74-51 Israel, Czech Republic 67-62 Belarus

Final Standings: 1. Czech, 2. Belarus, 3. GB – 4. Israel

Group C: Montenegro 76-64 Germany, Poland 63-78 Spain

Final Standings: 1.Montenegro, 2. Spain, 3. Poland – 4. Germany

Group D: Latvia 67-61 Croatia, Greece 55-64 France

Final Standings:

Main photo: MAP Photos for BB

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