GB Basketball target historic EuroBasket quarter-final berth

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter in Trelaze, France
GB target Eurobasket quarter-final

Great Britain Olympian Jo Leedham believes her team have the strength to reach the EuroBasket quarter-finals for the first time.

Despite losing to hosts France on Monday, GB reached the second round thanks to wins over Serbia and Latvia.

Their record against France and Serbia also counts in the second phase, so GB potentially require only one further victory to reach the knockout phase.

"I absolutely believe 100% we can do it," Leedham told BBC Sport.

Great Britain will face the Czech Republic on Wednesday before taking on Group D winners Belarus on Friday, and they complete their second-round fixtures against Croatia on Sunday.

"We always knew it was going to be tough against a team of the calibre of France who can take five players out and replace them with another five who are just as strong," said Leedham, who top-scored for GB in their 79-47 defeat by the hosts in Trelaze with 13 points.

"The other matches [in the second round] are very winnable, though, so we're staying very positive and confident."

Those sentiments are echoed by GB head coach Damian Jennings, who believes his team are demonstrating why UK Sport decided to give them a £7.5m funding reprieve for the Rio Olympics, earlier in the year.

"This team is strong with lots of potential," said Jennings, whose side have an average age under 25, making them the youngest team remaining in the competition.

"We have a plan for 2016 and also the Games after that - I like to think that the UK Sport money is a good investment and the fact we're playing our youngsters for our 2020 strategy bodes well."

The British team, who lost all five of their games at London 2012, were eliminated at the second-round stage in their EuroBasket debut two years ago, but believe they are better equipped to progress this time around.

"It would be huge [to reach the quarter-finals]," added Jennings.

"We have played Czech Republic & Croatia before - beating them and losing to them, but I'm very confident that our preparation will set us up to do as well as we can against those guys."

Leedham hopes reaching the knockout phase will motivate more young women to take up the sport.

"It would be massive for basketball and females in the UK," said the 24-year-old guard.

"I feel very responsible [for women getting involved]. I want to inspire a generation.

"It was about that last year in London, but it's about that this year too. It's not just a one-year wonder - it is all about the future."

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