The GB women’s Wheelchair Basketball team went down 60-35 to a strong Netherlands side in their opening pool game of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
The British team started well, taking the lead early in the first quarter courtesy of efforts by the impressive Helen Freeman and opened up an early 8-4 lead after seven minutes
But the Dutch battled back at the North Greenwich Arena, with Mariska Beijer sinking a basket eight seconds from time to make it all-square at 8-8 at the first break.
The Dutch stepped up the pace, scoring eight points unopposed late in the second quarter and early in the third, to extend their 20-14 halfway mark lead to 22-14 within moments of the start of quarter three.
Baskets by co-captain Louise Sugden and Sarah Grady kept the British team in the hunt, but as the team pressed in quarter three they were caught on the break, first by Inge Huitzing and then by Carolina de Rooij-Versloot.
Despite late baskets from Amy Conroy it was the Dutch that finished the contest the stronger, extending their lead from 38-24 at the end of the third quarter to close out the game at 62-35 and take the points.
Amy Conroy, who top-scored for GB with 15 points, said: “We struggled to cope with the pressure today. For six of us this was our first time and we were frantic, but hopefully that will be our one off and we now know what to expect.
“No one wins a medal today, but losing still hurts,” she added. “We will go away and pick ourselves up for tomorrow’s game. We have played the Dutch in the States so knew it was going to be really hard game but we need to keep our heads up.”
GB Head Coach, Garry Peel, said: “We had a solid start but the ball wouldn’t drop for us today, which instantly meant the girls lost confidence.
“I’ve never seen the ball rattle around the ring so much. The nerves kicked in a bit, which showed, and we were slightly static offensively.
“It was a big occasion for the girls in such a big arena,” he added. “We knew that it was going to be a really tough game, the Dutch are never an easy opposition, but now we have to pick ourselves up for tomorrow’s game.
“We will go in with a different game plan against the Aussies tomorrow. It will be another tough game as they are in the top four in the world but we have a tough pool and we knew none of our games would be easy.”
Great Britain’s women return to action tomorrow (Friday) when they take on Beijing 2008 bronze medallists Australia in a 13:00 start at the North Greenwich Arena.