Basketball: Lauren praises Great Britain’s Euro show

Lauren Thomas-Johnson tries to secure a rebound ahead of Marielle Amant of France. Photo by Mansoor Ahmed/Ahmedphotos.
Lauren Thomas-Johnson tries to secure a rebound ahead of Marielle Amant of France. Photo by Mansoor Ahmed/Ahmedphotos.
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Sheffield Hatters’ guard Lauren Thomas-Johnson said Great Britain can be proud of qualifying for the second round of EuroBasket in France.

Despite going down 79-47 against the host nation tonight in Trelaze victories against Serbia on Saturday and Lativa on Sunday had already booked Britain’s place through the opening group stage.

Thomas-Johnson and fellow Hatter Steph Gandy will now line up with their team-mates against the Czech Republic on Wednesday in the first match of their second round group.

She said: “I think we have done a really great job (of getting through to the second round). We’ve done what we set out to do.

“We wanted to steal the first game and win the second and I think we gave France a good battle.

“We’ll reflect on this game and go into the second round strong. We have a day off tomorrow so we’ll rest and re-group and the focus on the game ahead.”

Down 33-22 at half-time, GB had to try to overcome foul trouble and the sheer physicality of the 2009 European Champions. Despite a strong contribution from some of squad’s younger players, they could not fight back.

A 6-0 burst early in the third pushed France further in front, roared on by a capacity crowd at the Arena Loire. Although Azania Stewart converted GB’s first free throws of the game, another run of six increased the margin to 49-32.

The depth of the home team was a huge asset and they maintained their dominance, eventually easing 34 clear after a late 25-5 burst, with Isabelle Yacoubou heading their charge with 11 points.

Britain now need to finish in the top four of their second round group to progress to the quarter-finals of the tournament.

After the Czechs on Wednesday they will play Belarus on Friday and Croatia on Sunday.

Great Britain head coach Damian Jennings, who is assisted by Hatters coach Vanessa Ellis, is setting his sights high, he said: “We know the Czechs and the Croatians well.

“We’ve already started our preparations for them so we’ll see what we can do. Our target is going to be two wins. We want to be in the next round.”

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