Great Britain’s Senior Women returned to action with a victory as they opened their EuroBasket Women 2021 qualifying campaign with a 63-75 win in Poland.
Chema Buceta’s side – now ranked inside the world’s top 20 for the first time – led from start to finish in Walbrzych to take early control of Group F.
Eilidh Simpson top scored with 18 points on 5 of 6 shooting, while Karlie Samuelson was close behind with 16 and Temi Fagbenle hit 15.
Cheridene Green added a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds with Chantelle Handy also netting 11 points in the win.
The visitors benefited from the hot hand of Samuelson early on with the sharpshooter bringing her form from a 30-point outing in EuroCup Women action this season, scoring the game’s first six points.
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A three from Chantelle Handy made it 9-0 as Poland called time-out and they would respond with a 10-2 run to close the gap. Fagbenle had GB’s only score during that span and found a way inside to keep her side in front.
Cheridene Green is playing her rookie year as a pro in Poland this season, and settled in fast off the bench. An offensive rebound helped earn a trip to the line and the 24-year-old forward would contribute three points, five rebounds and an assist in three minutes to help GB lead 21-14.
Rachael Vanderwal seemed to sustain a painful knee injury early in the second, but would fortunately return to the court in the second half. Simpson stepped up with a three from the corner after the hosts had closed to within one, and connected with another to extend the advantage before Samuelson’s short-range jumpshot made it 35-26 at the half.
Fagbenle continued to have a big impact at both ends of the floor; blocking shots, drawing charges and scoring inside to help establish a double-digit cushion in the third period.
Handy hit another three at the mid-point and GB were able to keep their opponents at bay at the free throw line as they put up 26 points in the quarter to take a 61-46 lead into the fourth quarter.
Poland continued to fight and managed to stem the flow on the defensive end, though GB also held firm enough to protect their lead. Handy hobbled off late on having come up with a big and-1 play during the final period.
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GB wrapped up the win for a perfect start to the campaign and now turn their focus to facing Belarus at the weekend.
– Jo Leedham-Warner missed out through injury, Chantel Charles the addition from EBW19
– GB starters: Vanderwal, Simpson, Samuelson, Handy & Fagbenle
– GB host Belarus in Manchester on Sunday afternoon. to conclude first window
– Group winners qualify along with five best-placed runners-up
Brad has been a writer for Hoopsfix since 2014 and has also had freelance roles at the BBL and with FIBA – working at two Women’s EuroBasket tournaments. Contact: [email protected]