The Standard Life GB under-20 women won two of their eight games at the FIBA Under-20 European Championships in Bulgaria and despite being disappointed with the overall result, head coach, Matt Johnson was impressed with the way his side pulled together for the end of the competition.
Despite not finding a win in their first six games, GB pulled together and clinched two wins to round off their tournament. The first came in the form of a hard-fought and exciting 69-67 victory against Romania. The second half of the game was a fantastic display of defence from the Brits who then had a strong finish to close out their first win of the tournament.
They then followed up with a 65-61 win against Portugal. After losing a 20-point lead in the game, GB recovered with another solid finish as both Shequila Joseph and Harriet Ottewill-Soulsby reached double-figures in points and boards to end the 2013 Under-20 European Championship.
Head coach Matt Johnson reflected on the last 10 weeks: "After eight weeks in preparation and 15 days away at the Under-20 European Championships we are all pleased to end on a very positive note with two wins.
"The victories against Romania and Portugal could not have been in more dramatic fashion and exemplified the growth that this young team has gone through in such a short time.
"With only one player with previous under-20 experience in Rosie Hynes, we were always going to find the level of play challenging. After a tough buzzer beating loss in our first game against Macedonia, we then went on to play three of the top four teams in a row (Belgium, Czech Republic and Bulgaria) and so the mentality of our group was certainly challenged early on.
"But I have to commend the players and the relationships they went on to build at this point. The players talked to each other and their relationships strengthened and our coaches always kept the belief. From a fragile and seemingly immature group we grew in stature and represented GB in the most dramatic way possible.
"We were 15 down in the first half against Romania but we pressed them hard and took them to an incredibly tense end game, punctuated by a buzzer beater of our own. Then Portugal gave us our final chance to 'add weight' to our previous game and we responded with our finest basketball in the tournament to build a significant lead.
"We will perhaps rue some of the missed opportunities, particularly in the two games where we lost by a combined six points but we can also look back at a journey that has now almost certainly only just begun rather than come to an end with pride.
"We saw a group of young ladies that went away on their own but decided to come back together and we are very proud of their achievements. We can now look forward to seeing their growth over the coming year in all their domestic situations ready to do even greater things in 2014."
British Basketball's National Teams Director, Warwick Cann added: "While the results did not go the way we had targeted there are many positives from this campaign. We have now introduced two new British coaches to this level and we have broadened our depth of experience by exposing new players who were given opportunity because of injuries and unavailability.
"It will definitely help those young GB players in their development and will now add to the experience level and preparedness for next year's team."
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