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GB women secure opening victory

By Rob Dugdale
BBC Sport in Finland

Kristy Lavin
Kristy Lavin is back in the points following her battle with injury

Great Britain's woman made the perfect start to their bid to stay in Europe's Division A when they won 63-61 against Finland in Forssa.

Kim Butler notched 17 points and seven rebounds and led GB's effort, with centre Sarah McKay adding 15 points.

GB lost the first quarter 27-13 but came back to trail by just seven points at half-time.

Mark Clark's team shut down the Finns in the second half and survived a frantic last three minutes to win.

Butler and Rosalee Mason started the comeback in the second quarter, combining for 13 points with McKay helping herself to eight.

The Finns took almost six-and-a-half minutes to score a basket in the third quarter.

In that time, Mason, who finished with 10 points, had capped off the comeback with the basket that gave GB the lead.

Three-pointers from Kristy Lavin and Lisa Hutchinson brought a 56-50 lead for GB after three quarters.

Although the Finns closed the gap with two three-pointers in the fourth quarter, a two and a pair of free throws from Butler proved enough to get Britain home.

With the return to come against Finland on 13 January plus matches against Romania and Bosnia-Hercegovina, Britain needs to finish in the top two to avoid relegation to Division B and keep alive their hopes of playing at the 2012 Olympics in London.

GB captain Hutchinson told BBC Sport she was delighted her team came away with a victory following the tactical battle.

"They upped their defence and so we were getting pressure on the ball," she said. "I was struggling to find passes. In the end the team that played the best defence won - and that was us!

"Every session we've worked on our defence - one to one and also off-the-ball defence, helping each other. We started off a bit slow but once we got into it, everyone on the court was working so hard - that was the key.

"We've still got five games to go - we've got to perform every game. But I really believe that if we perform as a team we're not going to have any problems."

Meanwhile, head coach Mark Clark paid tribute to the team's resilience and said: "This was against a good quality team. We gutsed it out and refused to lose.

"I always talk about getting footholds in games - and in the second quarter we got a foothold in this game. We cut the lead to seven and so we had some momentum going into half-time."


Squad: Kim Butler, Lisa Hutchinson (both Leon), Kate Butters (Nottingham), Stefanie Collins, Meagan Hoffman (UWIC), Sally Kaznica (Guadalajaram), Kristy Lavin (Verona Norte), Rosalee Mason (Colmiers), Sarah McKay (Navarra), Helen Naylor (Leeds), Sarah Naylor (Sheffield), Charlotte Stoddart (Manchester), Harriet Yea (Barking-Rhondda)

Schedule:

4 Jan bt Finland 63-61 (a) in Forssa

7 Jan v Bosnia-Hercegovina (h) in Sheffield (EIS)

10 Jan v Romania (h) in Nottingham

13 Jan v Finland (h) in Worcester (Univ)

16 Jan v Bosnia-Hercegovina (a) in Sarajevo

19 Jan v Romania (a) in Targoviste

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see also
GB women up for relegation fight
17 Dec 08 |  Basketball


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