Jo Leedham made a welcome return for Great Britain in Riga on Thursday night but it couldn’t prevent hosts Latvia from securing an emphatic 74-50 win.

The former WNBA Draftee, pitched straight into the starting line-up, scored a team-high 10 points in 16 minutes of action on her first appearance in almost six months after recovering from knee injury.

However with Tom Maher fielding what is almost certain to be his final 12-strong squad for the Eurobasket finals, GB produced a ragged display as the Latvians avenged their loss in Surrey last month in some style.

And GB will now be forced to look for a quick adjustment when they meet Slovakia on Friday in the first of three meetings between the sides before their competitive opener in Poland on June 18 against Belarus.

It took over three minutes for the visitors to open their scoring after falling 9-0 behind and although Nat Stafford, making her own return, sparked a run of seven straight points which closed the gap to 16-13, Latvia swept ahead once more with an immediate 11-0 burst which sent them clear at the end of the first quarter.

Julie Page – who also hit 10 points and added 6 rebounds – and Azania Stewart hit back to back scores inside to keep GB within reach. Then Leedham downed successive three-pointers to slice the deficit to 37-29 before Stafford brought their side within six.

Deja vue crept in. Another 11-0 closing spurt – sparked by Elina Babkina – who grabbed a game-high 15 points – and Latvia surged 48-31 in front by half-time.

Leedham spent most of the third watching from the bench. Maher admits she is short of match fitness after her lay-off. Shorn of her offensive punch, GB struggled, held to just six points in the period. The sole salvation was that the home side added just 13 in a torrid ten-minute spell that saw their advantage grow to 61-37.

Their impetus carried onward into the fourth. Britain were held scoreless for almost four minutes before Stewart broke the spell with the Latvians’ lead peaking at 27.

It was not the way Roz Mason might have wished to mark her 50th appearance for GB. The veteran forward shot 1-8 from field goal range and scored just 4 points.

Her side fared little better, making just 16-54 from 2-point range and missing 8 of their 20 free throws.

“We struggled defensively to get our rotations in the correct order and the defensive transition wasn’t as we expected it to be,” said Mason. “Tomorrow we need to bounce back.

“We know what we did wrong today, we need to focus on a few key elements defensively. If we can correct those then everything else should come.”

Maher now has three games left to regain the momentum as Poland nears.

Notes: Steph Gandy, Yemi Oyefuwa and Meagan Hoffman were not in the game squad and look certain to miss out unless an injury occurs.

GAME STATS. (27-13, 21-18, 13-6, 13-13)

GB: Stafford (8), Collins (0), Butler (1), Leedham (10), Page (10) – Handy (0), Vanderwal (7),  Stewart (8), Thomas-Johnson (2), Mason (4), Anderson (0), Butters (0)

Under-20s lose opener

GB Under-20 women lost 55-42 to France in their opening friendly of the summer in Temple-sur-Lot.

Damian Jennings’ side were outscored 20-8 in the second quarter to trail 38-22 at half-time.

But – with Elidh Simpson and Erin McGarrachan each scoring 8 points – a rally in the fourth gave the coach some positives ahead of Friday’s re-match.

“Our ball pressure has improved since we started practicing two weeks ago, and we are beginning to commit to the [fast] break with ambition,” he told the GB website.

“This test series is perfect to challenge our ambition to grow every time we hit the floor.”




Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • MySpace
  • Print

You must be logged in to post a comment Login