Two players from Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters Division 1 team headed to France this week to represent Great Britain. Steph Gandy and Lauren Thomas-Johnson who made the final squad are accompanied by Vanessa Ellis who continues her role after as the Olympics as Assistant Coach.
After missing out at the last hurdle to represent GB in the Olympics Thomas-Johnson and Gandy’s hard work has obviously paid off not only having an undefeated season with the Hatters but also making the final squad of 12.
Thomas-Johnson stated that it ‘feels great to be back on the team and the tournament is going to be tough, but we are a great group and are up for the challenge.’
There are sixteen teams in total, including holders Russia, will do battle in France with three sides advancing from each of four first-round pools in the cities of Trelaze and Vannes. The second phase will see the survivors move onto Lille and Vendee with the knockout stages, including the final on June 30, held in Orchies at the Pevele Arena.
The top five-ranked teams will automatically qualify for next year’s FIBA World Championships for Women in Turkey.
Qualified: Olympics – host nation
Player to Watch: Jo Leedham (according to GB Basketball) but we will obviously will be playing a close eye on Steph Gandy and Lauren Thomas-Johnson.
Form: A new coach, a new challenge for Great Britain who will look to keep cementing their reputation as a tough defensive team which is able to grind down opponents.
Qualified: 2012 European Division A (2nd, group B)
Player to Watch: Jelena Milovanovic
Form: A young and inexperienced squad put together by coach Marina Maljkovic looked impressive in the qualification phase but their best could yet be ahead.
Qualified: 2012 European Division A (2nd, group E)
Player to Watch: Elina Babkina
Form: Hit by injuries, the Latvians are trying to extend their run of quarter-final appearances of six but with a number of retrials in recent times, they bring a touch of the unknown.
Qualified: Olympics – silver medal
Player to Watch: Celine Dumerc
Form: Unquestionably the favourites, Les Bleues were brilliant in London last summer until they ran into the USA in the final. But they have to carry the weight of expectation this time.
Group C Schedule
Saturday 15 GB v Serbia (11.30am BST), Latvia v France (8pm)
Sunday 16 GB v Latvia (2pm), France v Serbia (8pm)
Monday 17 France v GB (8pm), Latvia v Serbia (2pm)