The Championship takes a break this weekend as Great Britain continues its mission to qualify for FIBA EuroBasket Women 2019.
Following an entertaining opening qualification window, in which Great Britain outlasted Israel in a memorable 90-87 overtime thriller before falling 61-59 on the road to Greece, the team now face a defining pair of fixtures.
The squad flew out to Fargo on 8th February ahead of their clash with Portugal on Saturday 10th February at 9pm in Pavilhao. They then travel to Tel Aviv to face Israel on Wednesday 14th February at 6.30pm.
Of the initial 16-player squad named by Head Coach Chema Buceta, more than half were drawn from the domestic Women’s British Basketball League (WBBL).
We’re delighted to announce this month’s squad for the @EuroBasketWomen 2019 Qualifiers v Portugal and Israel! ? ?? ? More ? https://t.co/hqzbQTvLcL #BritishBasketball #EuroBasketWomen pic.twitter.com/zKfozNRP25
— GB Basketball (@gbbasketball) February 1, 2018
“It’s definitely good for the WBBL to have so many players involved in the national team,” explained Nottingham Wildcats guard Siobhán Prior.
“I think the great thing about it is that it gives the young players connected to WBBL clubs role models that are close to home.
“Having players that they can interact with on a weekly basis really helps to inspire them on their personal basketball journey.
“The morale in the camp is high. The greatest thing about this team and this programme is how positive the energy is all the time.
“It’s a supportive but competitive environment and everyone is working together and against each other to get better.
“There is obviously an awareness of how crucial these two games are but when we are on the floor our focus is solely on executing the plans the coaches have told us.”
— GB Basketball (@gbbasketball) February 6, 2018
The familiarity among the players is something Nicolette Fong Lyew Quee believes explains the squad’s “constant positivity and genuine willingness to work hard for one another.”
“It’s great that there are a lot of girls on the squad that play in the WBBL,” began the Durham Palatinates play-caller.
“The domestic league has progressed so much in such a short period of time. As the league gets more demanding it puts us in a stronger position to step up and contribute on the international stage.
“It shows that you don’t have to go away in order to be noticed.”
For Mollie Campbell too the decision to suit up for Leicester Riders and apply her trade domestically “reflects the strength of the league.”
“The fact that so many players are now opting to stay in the country to play professionally shows how competitive the WBBL has become.
“To be honest it’s an option that was not particularly there in the past.
“Being part of a group that know each other so well makes these camps so enjoyable. The atmosphere is always so positive.
“I think it gives us a great advantage each time we step onto the court.”