BUTLER READ TO DISH OUT LAST STAND

GBW kim butler v usa 568Kim Butler wants to help Great Britain to new heights this summer before riding off into the basketball sunset.

Probably.

The popular forward, who reneged on her planned retirement earlier this year, is bound for Södertälje this weekend for GB’s last three warm-up games ahead of EuroBasket, following a highly-anticipated date at Buckingham Palace on Thursday.

With GB coach Damian Jennings likely to confirm his 12-strong squad for France next week, he will get one final look at his options following a four-nation tournament that also features Latvia, Turkey and hosts Sweden.

However Butler, one of the veterans of last year’s Olympic line-up, admits that next month could be her last tour of duty.

“I had plans on retiring and hanging up the boots but I care about the programme and the future of British basketball,” she said.

“And this summer is very crucial.

“I’ll see how my body reacts after France. I’m not sure if my body can handle an eight month season and coping with knee issues. But this is probably the last stand for me for GB.”

All three of Britain’s opponents in Sweden are also EuroBasket-bound. Turkey were the runners-up at the 2011 championships. Sweden are back from the doldrums as a bright young group emerges.

While Latvia, intriguingly, also await Jennings’ side in the first round in France.

It is still unclear whether GB will have Jo Leedham available with the guard waiting to see if she was picked up by another WNBA team off waivers before committing to a European campaign.

 

However Harriet Ottewill-Soulsby, Christina Gaskin and Cheridene Green have been released while Georgia Jones (concussion) and Renee Busch have remained in the UK.

Jennings, even short-handed and with a short lead-in, remains upbeat about progress.

“It really is crazy how little preparation we’ve had and what we’ve got on the floor compared to how we’ve played,” he said. “So I’m really impressed.”

Turkey will be GB’s initial opponents on Friday evening with the Swedish hosts to follow on Saturday afternoon and the Latvians on Sunday.

Then it’s decision time.

“After Sweden we’ll name the final twelve then,” Jennings confirmed.

Four Nations Tournament (Times BST)

Friday 30.  Sweden v Latvia (5pm), GREAT BRITAIN v Turkey (7pm)

Saturday 1. Turkey v Latvia (2pm), Sweden v GREAT BRITAIN (4pm)

Sunday 2. GREAT BRITAIN v Latvia (1pm), Sweden v Turkey (3pm)

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