FIT-AGAIN LEEDHAM NAMED IN EURO SQUAD

Former WNBA draftee Jo Leedham has been passed fit to take her place in Great Britain’s squad for the Eurobasket finals which begin in Poland next weekend.

Leedham, who returned to action last week after six months out through injury, is included in a 12-strong team for GB’s first-ever appearance in a major tournament.

The side will open up against world championship semi-finalists Belarus next Saturday. And Britain’s coach, Tom Maher, admits the availability of his leading performer is a major boost.

“Jo’s been out for six months and she’s coming back,” Maher said.

Maher: Euros a step up

“But she’s a class act in so many ways and her capacity to get better is phenomenal. We need her. She’s our star quality so we need her back playing.”

Cheshire-born Leedham started against Latvia and Slovakia in Riga to complete a battling fightback from the ailment which had threatened to keep her out of the finals. Her playing time, Maher hints, may be rationed to ensure there is no setback to her recovery.

“We have to listen to what she says,” the Australian confirmed.

“We have been managing her minutes but she’s not in good enough condition to play more minutes anyway. She’ll get that quickly. But we certainly won’t do anything that will risk her health.”

Maher has just one further warm-up game, against the Slovaks on Wednesday, to get his side back to winning ways after three consecutive defeats. Re-establishing Leedham in the rotation is one thing. Ensuring his charges are prepared for their trip into the unknown is a bigger challenge still.

“We’re biting off an unbelievable chunk,” he admitted.

“We’re playing in a competition we’ve not played in before at a level we’ve never played. It’s going to be a huge test for us. Certainly, we can’t say we can beat this team or that team.

“The test for us is to show that we’re a genuine basketball country. That’s the next ladder on the rung.”

GB women’s squad for Eurobasket finals: Julie Page, Nat Stafford, Stef Collins, Kim Butler, Johannah Leedham, Chantelle Handy, Rachel Vanderwal, Azania Stewart, Lauren Thomas-Johnson, Ros Mason, Rose Anderson, Kate Butters

Pics: Wooller.com

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