GB Women’s hopes of reaching Rio 2016 have been dealt a huge blow after Jo Leedham opted out of EuroBasket 2015.

The loss of the Bourges guard – Britain’s best player – for a second straight summer is a setback for Peter Buckle’s side who will begin training camp in Worcester next month ahead of a tournament in Hungary and Romania that will determine which European teams qualify for the basketball tournament at Rio 2016.

“I wish the girls the very best for the tournament and I will be rooting for them to continue putting GB on the women’s basketball map,” said Leedham who has battled knee injuries throughout her career.

“It is unfortunate that I can’t join them, but I need to spend this summer focusing on my health which will require an element of rest.

“The team showed during the qualification process last year what they are capable of and I know they will all fight hard to continue what has been a proud and successful journey.”

2012 Olympian Chantelle Handy returns while former Under-20 standouts including Edinburgh Kool Kats’ Hannah Peacock and University of Toledo duo Janice Monakana and Jay-Anne Bravo-Harriott are given an opportunity.

Kathryn Rendell and Lauren Thomas-Johnson, who both helped the team to qualify last summer, are left out.

“I’m looking forward to getting started on court with our squad for 2015 and building upon what we achieved in 2014,” declared Buckle, who will eventually trim his initial 19-strong squad to 12 for EuroBasket.

“The new faces added to our senior programme should mix well with our established seniors, adding further depth to the GB programme.

“We need to work hard to prepare for EuroBasket 2015, making the most of our time together and using the practice games to test ourselves. It is important that we use our preparation games firstly in France and then later in Spain, to prepare well for Final Round.

“These warm-up games are essential to our programme.”

GB open up the Euros against Russia in Szombathely on June 12.

Preliminary squad

Dominique Allen (SBS Ostrava, Czech Rep); Janice Monakana, Jay-Ann Bravo-Harriott (University of Toledo, USA); Stef Collins (Cardiff Met Archers); Ella Clark (Zamarat, Spain); Temi Fagbenle (Harvard, USA); Helen Naylor, Stephanie Gandy (Sheffield Hatters); Chantelle Handy (Ormanspor, Turkey); Nicole How (Sydney Uni Flames, Australia); Georgia Jones (Leicester Riders); Mrashi Karumba (Brixton Topcats); Erin McGarrachan (Houston Baptist, USA); Harriet Ottewill-Soulsby (Lafayette, USA); Hannah Peacock (City of Edinburgh Kool Kats); Chantelle Pressley (Nottingham Wildcats); Eilidh Simpson (St Francis Brooklyn, USA); Azania Stewart (Pinkk Pesci 424, Hungary); Rachael Vanderwal (Gernika Bizkaia, Spain)

Pic: Mansoor Ahmed 


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