AFTER years of starring on the basketball courts of America, Jo Leedham returns to her roots tomorrow when she pulls on a Great Britain vest in Liverpool.
The 22-year-old guard from Little Sutton is one of the leading lights in Britain’s women’s team, who face Germany at the Echo Arena in a vital European Championship qualifier.
Jo left Ellesmere Port when she was 16 to begin a successful college career in America – so she is relishing the chance to play much closer to home.
“The Liverpool match is the one I’m most looking forward to because a lot of my family and friends have not ever been able to watch me play,” said the former Catholic High School pupil.
“Hopefully, with the men playing on the same night, there should be a good crowd.
“The women’s game is improving all the time, especially in this country, and we are close behind the men now.”
Jo and her GB team-mates are striving to qualify for next year’s Euros, which offer a route to the 2012 London Olympics.
The top two teams from each of the groups qualify directly for the finals, known as EuroBasket Women 2011, to be played in Poland.
Jo led the way for GB at the weekend, scoring 18 points in a 57-49 victory over Ukraine at Surrey Sports Park.
At the halfway point in the campaign, Tom Maher’s team are now in a three-way tie at the top of Group D with Slovakia and tomorrow’s opponents, Germany.
Jo has put her women’s NBA career on hold to focus on her international ambitions.
She was draft picked to play for the Connecticut Sun, but deferred joining from Franklin Pierce University to concentrate on playing for her country.
“I’m not going to Connecticut until next April so I can play in these qualifiers and then hopefully the Euro tournament,” she said.
Britain’s men’s team are also in action in Liverpool tomorrow, taking on Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Echo Arena.
For tickets call 0844 581 0738 or visit the website www.gameongb.com