JO Leedham has continued her rehabilitation from injury by captaining Great Britain’s women’s team at their first major international tournament.
But there was disappointment for the 23-year-old at the EuroBasket finals in Poland as Team GB lost five out of their six matches, despite running some of the more established teams close.
Star player Leedham, of Little Sutton, was included in Britain’s 12-player squad despite only recently returning to action from a six-month injury lay-off.
While coach Tom Maher rationed her time on court to ensure there was no setback in her recovery, Leedham still managed to show glimpses of her quality.
She said: “I don’t think we’re ready for the Olympics just yet, but we took a step further than we took last year. We worked hard and teams have to respect us.”
GB started with two defeats – 55-40 to Belarus and 60-45 to the Czech Republic – but made it through to the second phase with a 74-51 hammering of Israel, Leedham scoring a game-high 18 points.
But Britain, who will rub shoulders with the genuine international elite of women’s basketball at next year’s London Olympics, were unable to progress any further.
They slipped to an agonising late 64-63 defeat to Lithuania on Thursday and saw their hopes of reaching the last eight dashed on Saturday in a 64-57 loss to Turkey.
The Brits bowed out of their first EuroBasket competition on Monday, losing 62-59 to Russia in their final match of the second group stage.
Leedham began her basketball career with the Ellesmere Port Panthers and made her name playing college basketball in America.