CROATIA DEAL GB AN OPENING LOSS

Great Britain’s women suffered a 81-59 defeat to Croatia in Vodice on Monday in the first game of their build-up to this summer’s Olympic Games.

Tom Maher’s side was unleashed after three weeks of training camp, eager to prove its worth against one of the teams that might, potentially, stand in their way in London in July.

But they found their hosts a harsh opening opponent.

The powerful Croats, who will take part in next month’s Olympic qualifying tournament in Turkey, imposed themselves in the first quarter as the visitors were given an immediate indication of how tough the road to success in London will be.

Jo Leedham had a team-high 15 points and added 6 rebounds for Great Britain, who trailed 35-23 at half-time.

Maher’s side – with Chantelle Handy back in action after a foot injury – trimmed the deficit to 52-42 entering the fourth quarter but the hosts produced another surge to pull away, led by a game-best 17 points from Visoka Marija Vrsaljko.

“We always knew it was going to be tough moving from the safe environment of training camp, where you can immediately correct mistakes, to a game where you have to get things right,” said Maher.

“We have to accept that we’ll need a few games to make the transition.”

Natalie Stafford added 13 for GB.

The two sides meet again on Tuesday.

Main pic: MAP/BB

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