21 Aug 14
?Iceland turned out the lights on both the EuroBasket 2015 and Olympic aspirations of Great Britain's senior men, after taking a narrow 71-69 success in the 2nd Qualifying Round at the Copper Box Arena.
Standard Life GB head coach, Tom Maher, admitted he would settle for a similar showing when the sides meet again tomorrow: "I am delighted, I won't lie. Our performance was terrific against a team we need to be able to cope with. When you look at world rankings, they're in the mix for the Olympics. These are the kind of teams you want to compete against."
GB made an early impression, leading for much of the opening quarter but the Canadians used a 7-0 run to move ahead early in the second period.
However, Maher's side raised their game after the break, with young internationals Temi Fagbenle and Dominique Allen impressing defensively as Allen grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Familiar faces Jo Leedham, who added 15 points and six rebounds, and Stafford also shone as they sparked Britain's scoring surge.
An 11-2 run midway through the third pushed GB ahead for good as they surged 52-43 in front with eight minutes left.
Canada, paced by 19 points from ex-WNBA forward Kim Smith, used an 8-2 flurry to come within three but their revival ended there.
In the final minutes the hosts went clear as ten consecutive free throws from GB propelled them away.
Lead scorer, Stafford commented on the win: "Today was much much better. We came out and had a fantastic start, it was our defence that got it. We knuckled down and communicated well. We switched well and we played more consistently than in the first few games.
"We won, but there is always room for improvement. We got caught up at times when they were running their offense and getting easy baskets. For us, it's about getting that consistency now."
Edinburgh's own Rose Anderson added four points and two rebounds while Fagbenle had 11 points.
GB will be looking for a repeat performance tomorrow when the teams meet again at 1pm. Tickets are still available on the door of Meadowbank Sports Centre.