JO Leedham has underlined her importance to her country on the eve of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The 24-year-old from Ellesmere Port was named the most valuable player at last weekend’s Turkish International Foundation Tournament in Ankara.
Leedham averaged an impressive 21.7 points over three games as the Great Britain women’s team claimed wins over the higher-ranked South Korea and Argentina.
But the guard was left disappointed by a final-match defeat to Turkey which saw the hosts take the title.
Leedham said: “In the second half we were scrappy and had a really poor third quarter but we’ve just got to stay focused, stay persistent, make plays, get loose balls and just make smarter plays overall.”
But former Ellesmere Port Panthers star Leedham still believes her team has plenty of reasons to be positive going into this week’s warm-up clashes in Prague against the Czech Republic, who are ranked fourth in the world.
She said: “We’ve got two more games, so we’re looking forward to them and to just keep moving forward.”
Although Great Britain’s 12-woman squad for this summer’s Olympics will not be officially confirmed until later this month, Leedham is almost certain to be part of the party in London providing she avoids injury.
The former Ellesmere Port Catholic High pupil spent almost a full season out of the game in her first year out of university in America with a degenerative knee injury.
But thanks to the support of the Great Britain team doctors and physios, she has been able to manage the problem and return to her best.
The 5ft 11in guard spent last season playing in the tough Australian Women’s National Basketball League for Bulleen Boomers, helping the Victoria state club finish second in the regular season standings before losing to Dandenong Rangers 94-70 in the play-off final.
Leedham took that form into the Turkish International Foundation Tournament. She scored a game-high 29 points as Great Britain powered to a 113-86 victory over a South Korean team, who at number nine in the world standings, represented the highest-ranked team they have beaten to date.
Leedham also led Great Britain’s scoring in their hard-fought 81-65 success over Argentina and 73-54 defeat to EuroBasket Women 2011 runners-up Turkey, netting 22 and 14 points respectively.