Great Britain started their EuroBasket Women 2023 qualifiers with a 73-66 loss to Greece.

Short-handed in Manchester, with Temi Fagbenle ruled out with a knee issue, GB were paced by 14 points from Karlie Samuelson and received an energetic spark from Shanice Beckford-Norton on her debut.

The visitors, however, imposed themselves defensively and it held sway, their relentless pressure and physicality doing just enough to keep breaking up GB’s rhythm and stripping their mid-range assault away.

Onward now to Estonia on Sunday for Chema Buceta’s side where their guests will also need to rebound from an opening defeat, a torrid 62-43 loss to Portugal.

“We were close in some points in the game but we made some mistakes,” Buceta said.

“But I was happy that the team was able to react and manage to get a decent result for the second leg next year.

“We have some new players in with no match experience at this level, and this is something we will have to improve in the future.

“Now we have to beat Estonia. This is our main goal now, we have to go game by game.”

The plus, for Buceta, will be that is prediction that Beckford-Norton would be an x-factor was well-placed, the London Lions guard looking right at home on her senior international debut.

She scored 10 of her 12 points in the first half which ended with GB trailing 34-33 and riding their outside shooting as the visitors toiled from long range.

That did not last and it was punishing.

An 11-1 run from Greece gave them a 48-39 lead with 4:33 left in 3rd with only Samuelson carving leeway for herself.

On her own debut, there was a backhanded compliment for Holly Winterburn who was pressurised defensively at every turn. However she took her leave with seven minutes left after picking up a second unsportsmanlike foul with Buceta’s side 63-50 in arrears.

Two quick threes from Chantelle Handy, and two foul shots from Samuelson, briefly cut the gap to five but it was as close as they would come as the group favourites held on- with Artemis Spanou and Angeliki Nikolopoulou each scoring a game-high 17 points.

Azania Stewart, returning to the line-up for the first time since 2018, collected 10 points and 11 rebounds but the British will still likely need to now win by eight in Greece later in the group to guarantee a spot in the 2023 finals.


GB starters v Greece: Winterburn, Vanderwal, Samuelson, Handy, Stewart. GB had 19 turnovers and 17 assists.

Group G Standings: 1. Portugal (1-0), 2. Greece (1-0), 3. Great Britain (0-1), 4. Estonia (0-1)

Elsewhere, Ireland opened with a 82-60 loss to the Netherlands.

Game Stats

Image: FIBA

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