Eilidh Simpson will cope with the bear pit of facing hosts Latvia when Great Britain open their Women’s EuroBasket finals bid today.

The 26-year-old guard spent her childhood in Melbourne with dreams of becoming the Antipodean female answer to Roger Federer before basketball finally held sway.

More a team player, than a soloist, she affirms.

And it spirited Simpson back to the roots of her English father and Scottish mother and on an international trip that could see her feature at next summer’s Olympics if GB can end up in the top six of the Euros.

A first-round pool that also includes defending champions Spain was always destined to carry a certain intimidation. Ukraine like to impose.

So much, however, could all hinge on holding their nerves amid a cauldron of noise in Riga. Bring it on, Simpson proclaims.

“Latvia in Latvia – it’s going to be unreal,” she said. “It will be crazy in that arena I’m sure. But we’ll be ready. We have confidence in each other and trust. We’re a close-knit group and finishing top of a qualifying group ahead of Israel and Greece wasn’t easy. We’ve shown we can compete with anyone. We just beat Canada twice. So we have the belief we can do it.

“We’ve not set targets. But we’re not just going to show up. We want to compete and get out of the group stages. That game against Latvia will be huge in setting a tone. Spain will be incredibly tough. Then it’s probable that Ukraine will be a must-win.”

If Simpson – who has signed for Czech side Ostrava for next season – feels the jitters, then she can quickly turn to her main support act. For the past two years, she has been dating Great Britain team-mate Rachael Vanderwal with the pair reunited after spending last season in different countries playing in different leagues.

With the 26-year-old in the best shape of her career, the pair’s backcourt combination forms one vital part of Chema Buceta’s defensive wall. And by taking on that challenge, it makes the championships another shared journey, she claims.

“It’s always great having Rach by my side. I was super-proud with her getting her 100th cap recently. It’s great to know we’ll have these memories together.

“It’s better than FaceTiming, although that keeps us occupied during the season. The good thing is we’re kind of on the same schedule. Practice in the morning. Then we can have a Facetime over lunch. Then afternoon in the gym or a game then we can catch up again.

“It would be great if we played in the same country. That would make it easy.”

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