EuroBasket Women: Great Britain beat hosts Latvia in opener

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Great Britain’s women opened their EuroBasket campaign with a dominant 74-60 win over hosts Latvia in Riga.

Johannah Leedham-Warner led the team with 24 points and six assists, as well as taking seven steals as she showcased her all-round talent.

Karlie Samuelson added 15 points and Temi Fagbenle 13 in a comfortable win.

GB, who need to make the top eight to stand a chance of an Olympic qualifying berth, play reigning champions Spain on Friday in their second game of the tournament.

Whatever nerves GB had on their return to EuroBasket after four years out, they did not last long. Leedham-Warner ignited an early 8-0 run and she, Samuelson and Janice Monakana added three-pointers in a further 9-2 run to take the first quarter 24-17.

The lead was 35-23 in the second quarter with another Leedham three, but Latvia’s inside player Zenta Melnika rebounded for three scores in a 16-6 reply that left GB just 41-39 points ahead at the interval.

Latvia levelled the game 47-47 at the start of the second half, but were then held scoreless for the next five and a half minutes as GB hit four three-pointers in a 16-0 run to retake control of the game.

Trailing by 16 points entering the final quarter, Latvia managed just 11 points as GB concentrated on their defensive effort to close out a potentially vital opening-night win.

Leedham-Warner, described afterwards as “a beast” by her captain Stef Collins, said playing a leading role is easier with the current GB team.

“I feel that responsibility – but without any pressure because the girls are really great,” she said.

“Everybody plays so selflessly because the others have so much to give too.”

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