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Paralympic sports - 10. September 2008.

Britain battle on in basketball

Britain's women lost to reigning champions USA in their third pool A basketball game in Beijing today but remain hopeful of progressing to the quarter-final stages.

After their 31-56 defeat, Sheffield-based guard Jo Harper said: "Today gave us a kick up the backside for the rest of the competition.

USA defeat England in Beijing Basketball match

“We reached our goal yesterday and won, today we played well against a very tough team. We are confident of going forward to the quarter-finals.

"The atmosphere around the squad is brilliant and we have every confidence in ourselves.”

Gold-medal hopes USA put in a solid performance with top-scorer Loraine Gonzales scoring eight points in the first half and another six in the second. But it was USA’s defence which proved the difference forcing Britain to concede 17 turnovers in the first half as they secured first place in the group.

Despite trailing throughout Britain played well, working hard to control the Americans’ movements and converting more field goals and free throws than their opponents. In the final quarter Britain began to make some inroads as coach Garry Peel made changes.

"We turned things around in the last quarter," said Harper. "The coach changed things around a bit to rest a few players and it helped freshen things up."

Britain beat Brazil convincingly 61-29 in their previous game, bouncing back from a disappointing opening loss to Australia. They play Germany tomorrow morning in another difficult game as they seek to make the quarter-finals.

“It’s going to be a tough match,” said forward Helen Turner. “They are here for the gold medal and are quite strong. But we’ve played them before and know them well.”

“We’re ready for anyone,” agreed Watford student Helen Freeman, at 18 the baby of the team.
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