Great Britain lose 78-64 in their EuroBasket Women qualifying campaign against Montenegro. 


Summary: Jo Leedham, on her return to national duty after a two-year absence, grabbed a game-high 20 points and 13 rebounds and sparked the visitors into a bright opening spell.

But after leading 8-1, GB could not give new coach Jose Maria Buceta a winning debut and a 12-2 run that put Montenegro 42-28 ahead at half-time proved telling.

And although Buceta’s side reeled off 11 unanswered points to cut the gap to 58-55, the hosts sealed victory with a late 11-2 push, paced by 20 points from Angel Robinson.

Post-game Reaction

Jose Maria Buceta: “The good thing is we kept our intensity, especially defensively and we kept running our offence. Montenegro is a good team. They were close to making the semi-finals at last summer’s EuroBasket. But even when they got in front, we didn’t give up.

“And there is a lot we can be proud of. We want to empower the players to be ambitious and take shots and I liked how we did that.”

Azania Stewart: “We knew coming into this game that they’re a tough team. They played great throughout EuroBasket this summer. They killed us a bit on the rebounding and that’s what kept them in the game. But I’m proud of my team. We fought and we showed our GB Way of being aggressive and never giving up. It’s good to have Jo (Leedham) back for us. And although we’re disappointed, it’s a long road and we just have to learn from this game and move on.”

2150 FINAL It’s all over. GB, led by 20 points and 13 rebounds from Jo Leedham and 13 from Azania Stewart, can’t quite do enough. Angelica Robinson paces the hosts with 20 as they decisively win the battle of the boards 53-32.

2145 It’s now an 11-2 run and Montenegro lead 78-64 with 1 minute left. No sense of panic from them any more after a trio of treys from Aleksic. They’ve done everything we expected tonight but there have been real pockets of promise from Britain, especially in a second half where it wasn’t just the Leedham show.

2141 Deficit down to 67-62 with another generous roll for Handy but back to back threes from Snezana Aleksic may just have plunged in the dagger.

2137 Timeout with 4:53 left and GB now down 67-59 following a 9-2 home run and Stewart on 4 fouls. Can Buceta spur his side to one more push?

2131 Handy gets a generous roll on the rim and now it’s 58-55 with a superb fake and finish from Captain Marvel, Azania Stewart to cap an 11-0 run. It’s gotten very interesting and suddenly there’s a little edge in the air from the home fans..

2126 END 3RD Montenegro 58-51 Great Britain Lots to like in that quarter with Georgia Jones doing a sterling job in tandem with Vanderwal, allowing Leedham to work more off the ball which has opened up opportunities for others to make their mark with a closing 6-0 run. Leedham has 20 with Dubljevic pacing MNE on 15.

2120 It’s end to end stuff here with GB pushing the ball in transition with a smaller line-up – two threes from Handy and one from Vanderwal are keeping the visitors within reach, as they trail 58-49 with 1:20 left  in the third. Thompson is now being asked to man the middle – we should get a feel for how versatile she could be – but Britain desperately need to find rebounds.

2112 GB open up with a three from Eilidh Simpson and another jumper from on the break from Leedham to cut the lead to 42-33. Bucket is gambling on throwing Stewart back in – have to hope she can stay out of foul trouble and provide a towering presence.

2054 HT Montenegro 42-28 Great Britain. Hosts really upping their game and using their potency in the pain to trouble GB with Angel Robinson racking up 14 points and 6 rebounds. Leedham also has 14 and 7 but there’s an over-reliance on her abilities with others standing still and watching rather than working off the ball or creating open looks for themselves. And at the other end, they’ve only forced one steal and two points off turnovers. A lot for Buceta to think about – with the shots made and missed in the first and second quarters as below illustrating the change in the tide.

Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 20.42.22

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2048 38-26, Leedham has 14 points in 13 minutes but rest of team shooting 6/18. Clark is toiling to provide help defensively and Buceta forced into another timeout with 2:51 left in 2nd. GB back to man to man coverage. In case you wondered, there are around 250 fans here but the game is on cable TV.

2044 A 13-3 start to the 2nd period from Montenegro and Buceta calls time out with 5:13 left and his side down 30-22. GB becoming less physical.

Robinson had 14 points by half-time (MNE)

Robinson had 14 of her 20 points by half-time (MNE)

2038  Smart play from Eilidh Simpson to sucker Dubljevic into a charge as she tried to break into the zone. 21-19 with 8:05 left in 2nd. GB are being forced into tougher shots than in the opening period where they were getting simpler short jumpers. Ominously, Skerovic is now converting open looks and Stewart’s third foul is going to hurt through to the second half.

2033 END 1ST, Montenegro 17-19 GB Vanderwal races up court from an inbounds for a cheeky floater as the buzzer sounds. Leedham has 7, Stewart 6 but 2 fouls. So far lots to like about the way GB are using speed in transition.

2028 Timeout for MNE with game tied at 15:15 with 2:17 left in the first. So far GB pretty energetic and doing a great job of hustling for rebounds after switching to a zone. Thompson has her first international score and is defending well but you hope she’ll become more assertive offensively as we move on. Helen Naylor now gets her shot.

2022 First sub is Georgia Jones for Vanderwal, who Montenegro have been pressing at half-court. Jamila Thompson makes her GB debut. Buceta said pre-game they’d really liked what Jones brings. I also now know that auto-correct changes that to Bucket so apologies in advance. 7-0 run and hosts up 13-10.

2019 Jumper from Captain Stewart and GB lead 8-1 before Skerovic comes off a pick for a three. That’s something GB have game planned to limit.

2017 Interesting tactic of putting Stewart on Robinson defensively, leaving Allen to pester the taller Perovanovic. Leedham puts GB 4-0 up.

2015 GB starters: Vanderwal, Leedham, Allen, Handy, Stewart. MNE: Vucetic, Skerovic, Dubljevic, Robinson, Perovanovic

2005 Buceta in prolonged conversation with Vanderwal. Will be a lot on her shoulders tonight as the starting PG in the absence of Stef Collins.

1955 Whoever wins tonight will lie second in Group C – a safe bet. Italy, who come to Manchester on Wednesday, have hammered Albania 121-38 with eight players scoring in double figures.

1950 Team News: Azania Stewart will captain GB tonight. Buceta not yet revealed starters but best guess is Vanderwal, Leedham, Thompson, Handy, Stewart – with Thompson likely to be part of a rotation to limit Angel Robinson.

Montenegro 12: Matovic, Skerovic, J Vucetic, Rakovic, Popovic, Aleksic, Dubljevic, Milosevic, Perovanovic, M Vucetic, Mujovic, Robinson

Montenegro are without injured trio Milica Jovanovic, Jovana Pasic and Irena Matovic, leaving them short-handed in the backcourt. Although GB will be wary of the formidable way the hosts run the pick and roll through Jelena Skerovic.

“We tried to change things around quickly,” coach Momir Milatović said pre-game. “We will have to use Jelena Å kerović more and Jelena Dubljević at forward. We are handicapped, and at the last European Championships, we had shooting struggles. I hope we can catch up.”

GB, of course, will miss the experience of Stef Collins and the interior power of Temi Fagbenle. The team shot around on Saturday morning after being forced into switching practice at a university on Friday night due to a volleyball game at the arena.


Welcome to the concrete jungle that is the Moraca Sports Hall for GB’s first step on the road to EuroBasket 2017 in the Czech Republic. In case you wondered what the MSH looked like, here’s a pic. Pretty, huh?

ICYMI, Jo Leedham has told us about her international return and how she wants to pass on the knowledge acquired during her stellar career.

And here’s a look at how Eilidh Simpson went from Melbourne to Montenegro thanks to her video vision and why we should expect GB’s young guns to get a shot here.

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