Great Britain's women on brink of qualifying for EuroBasket finals

By Rob DugdaleBBC Sport at the National Basketball Performance Centre
Johannah Leedham
Johannah Leedham plays for Polkowice in Poland

Great Britain's women ensured they can qualify for next year's EuroBasket finals with a win over Portugal on Wednesday by securing a thrilling 79-77 win over Greece in Manchester.

Johannah Leedham led GB with 21 points, Georgia Jones added 16 and Chantelle Handy and Karlie Samuelson had 14 each.

GB led by 16 points in the first half but had to withstand a strong comeback to edge home in a nervy fourth quarter.

They now have one win more than Greece in Group D with just one game left.

Needing a three-point victory margin to take the group outright, GB hardly put a foot wrong in the first half, with Leedham sparking an 8-0 run to take their first lead of the game.

In the second quarter, Jones stepped in with 10 points in a 15-7 run to leave the visitors trailing 31-17 and GB kept the 14-point lead at half-time.

Greece came out shooting at the start of the second half and kept the pressure on GB to the end of the third quarter, when a late basket from Jacki Gemelos left the hosts' lead at 61-58.

Threes from Eilidh Simpson and Jones gave GB some breathing space, but Greece levelled at 71-71 with 2:42 remaining. Jones and Samuelson both hit threes and GB led 77-74 with 18 seconds remaining.

Leedham's steal and score from Greece's sideline possession gave them a five-point lead with 10.3 seconds remaining but Leedham then fouled Greek captain Evanthia Maltsi, who scored all three of her free throws.

GB had the ball with 4.5 seconds remaining but could not keep possession; Greece also failed and GB's hopes of qualifying for EuroBasket survived to the final round of games, when they will welcome Portugal to Manchester.

Group DPWLProConPtsGD
Great Britain541368355913

Coach Chem Buceta said: "I think that was a big step towards qualifying. One more point and we would already be there, of course, but at the beginning of the window we would have signed up to the chance of qualifying by beating Portugal in the last game.

"Maybe we thought it was easy in the first half when were were leading by 14 points, but Greece came back because they are a very good team.

"This was a very difficult game and we beat Greece for the first time ever. Now we have to focus on beating Portugal here on Wednesday."

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