- National Teams
*Note-The two teams also played an unofficial friendly on Saturday (26 June) over five periods with Bulgaria coming out on top (80-79). In this match all 14 players from Great Britain played.
GB Senior Women tied the series against Bulgaria with a convincing 69-51 victory yesterday.
Great Britain did not begin the game well but once they cut down their turnovers and started to connect from long range, they took control of the game. It was their defensive systems in the second half that were the key to the victory.
Jo Leedham was the key player for GB with 20 points, 5 steals and 2 blocks and was joined in double digits by Julie Page and Kim Butler with 12 and 10 points respectively. Jeneya Wade Fray also had a good game with 5 assists, 7 rebounds and 8 points.
Tom Maher made two changes to his roster by replacing Joanna Clayden and Rosalee Mason for Sarah Mckay and Stefanie Gandy.
Huge thanks to Women’s Basketball in France for the writeup.
The first four minutes of the game belonged to Bulgaria as they raced out to a (6-0) lead despite being out-hustled and out-rebounded by Great Britain.
Great Britain’s exuberance led to early turnovers and poor shot selections but once they settled down things improved and the players got themselves into the game.
Rose Anderson scored the first points for GB with a drive to the basket, despite being muscled out of the way by Stefka Miteva.
Althoug Bulgaria were leading (10-4) they were losing control of the game and the last four minutes of the first quarter belonged to Great Britain.
Stephanie Collins combined well with Jo Leedham who fired in the first three-pointer of the game. Azania Steward started to throw her weight around in the paint and went 3-of-4 from the free-throw line to tie the game (10-10).
Bulgaria were on the back foot. Without Doneeka Hodges on the court, Leedham and Chantelle Handy completed the 10-0 run for GB to lead (14-10) at the end of the first quarter.
Kim Butler scored quickly as Great Britain maintained the momentum (16-10). However Hodges ended the Bulgarian nightmare on the next attack with 2 points for Bulgaria.
Hodges profited as GB stayed back and used the extra space to work and set up an opportunity for three-point specialist Elena Yankova to fire in a shot from the land of many.
Once again Leedham found a way of scoring for GB to hold on to a slim lead (18-15) with 8 minutes left to play in the quarter.
The Bulgarians changed their defensive system which kept their opponents at bay except for Leedham who managed to score after picking up her own offensive rebound.
Yet 5 points from Yankova levelled the score (20-20) with 15 minutes played.
The rest of the quarter was scrappy but entertaining with Leedham (13 points in the first half) making the difference as GB went into the locker room in front (26-25).
GB came out cold after the break allowing Bulgaria the chance to regain the advantage briefly.
However Leedham in the role of a point-guard delivered a nice pass for Butler, who scored from beyond the arc for just the second three-pointer for GB.
The rest of the third quarter was rather technical with both coaches giving loads of instructions and substituting players frequently. The lead changed hands 7 times before GB finally took hold of the game midway through the quarter with other GB players finally finding their way to the basket.
GB finally started to win the important duals defensively and put an 8-0 run together to go 10 points clear (50-40) with 20 seconds left to play in the quarter.
After all the good work Tom Maher was not too pleased when Dimana Georgieva was left open to score the last basket of the quarter for Bulgaria.
The final quarter belonged to GB and Jeneya Wade Fray who was everywhere as they paced her side themselves to victory. Julie Page was all over the court as GB maintained a disciplined defensive structure that frustrated their opponents.
GB scored 17 points without Leedham, but she was not to be denied and scored the last points of the game.