- National Teams
Young prospects Harriet Ottewill-Soulsby (pictured, above), Christina Gaskin and Cheridene Green are the first three cuts of Damian Jennings’ Senior Great Britain squad.
Loughborough Student Riders’ Ottewill-Soulsby has been released to join the GB Under-20 women’s side, whilst Gaskin and Green have been released due to medical reasons.
“I was very impressed with all three players,” commented head coach Damian Jennings. “Unfortunately the two injuries precluded Cheridine and Christina going any further. Harriet has done a wonderful job stepping up into a senior women’s camp as a 17 year old and has made a significant impression. At this time she will lead the GB under-20s and England under-18s if healthy. All three have a bright future with British Basketball.”
Meanwhile, 12 players have travelled to Sweden for the four-nation tournament this weekend, where they will face Latvia, Turkey and hosts, Sweden, for their final three warm-up games ahead of next month’s Eurobasket Women.
Following trials in the WNBA, Jo Leedham has yet to join GB camp and Renee Busch remains with the squad but will not travel to Sweden. Georgia Jones is out of the tournament with a concussion and will also not travel.
Following two home wins last weekend, Kim Butler will captain the team this weekend, and believes head coach Damian Jennings can lead the GB women’s team to new heights this summer and nurture a fresh generation of basketball stars.
Jennings took the post as head coach following a successful first season with Calgary University in Canada and Butler, one of the veterans of last year’s Olympic line-up, says that the former assistant coach has wasted no time in moulding a side to his own image since returning to the UK: “Damian’s got so much energy and positivity. He’s a great teacher, very patient, and he’s been around us since 2007.
“He keeps his door open to talk and he takes feedback. I think he’s got a great future ahead of him as a coach.”
All three of Britain’s opponents in Sweden are also EuroBasket-bound. Turkey were the runners-up at the 2011 Championships, while Sweden look set to profit from a bright young group of talents at this year’s competition. But it is Latvia that the GB side are also set to face in their first round games in France so this weekend’s game in Sweden will prove rather telling for what awaits the sides at EuroBasket Women 2013.
With two home wins under their belt at last week’s British Basketball Invitational Tournament in Guildford, Butler senses that the pieces are falling into place: “These games will be a lot harder than last weekend, but I think we’re ready for it.”
Following five weeks of preparation that has seen the core group that held its own at London 2012 integrate with a cluster of emerging prospects from Great Britain’s Under-20 squad, there are three more chances for head coach Jennings to see his players in action before leading them into the competitive fray: “I can’t wait. With the limited preparation we’ve had and what we’ve got on the floor compared to how we’ve played, I’m really impressed. I’m just excited to get back on the floor.”
Turkey will be GB’s initial opponents on Friday evening with the Swedish hosts to follow on Saturday afternoon and the Latvians on Sunday.
“This tournament is the next level up,” Jennings underlined.
“We grew as a team last weekend, it was a great test for us and great preparation for this weekend. We’ve watched the game tapes to see what we can improve on, and we can only get better.”
Four Nations Tournament (Times BST)
Friday 30: Sweden v Latvia (5pm), GREAT BRITAIN v Turkey (7pm)
Saturday 1: Turkey v Latvia (2pm), Sweden v GREAT BRITAIN (4pm)
Sunday 2: GREAT BRITAIN v Latvia (1pm), Sweden v Turkey (3pm)
Live stats will be available via www.basket.se
Image Credit: British Basketball