|27 July 2010|
England coach Michael Ball saw his U18 women team make a big leap forward in their warm-up series against Hungary, but he is a long way from satisfied yet.
Having lost the opening game in a 79-31 rout, England were much improved second time out, going down 62-54.
But while Hungary may be in Division A to England's Division B, Ball knows his team must still get better before the European U18 Championship begins.
"We competed at the defensive end but still we had too many situations where we did not adjust quickly enough off the ball to the Hungarian's player movement," Ball said.
"Offensively we still have situations where our young guards need to take control in the half-court but both Femi (Hamilton) and Rosie (Hynes) showed more maturity today and a willingness to take responsibility on their shoulders."
Ball had to work without the injured Rheanne Bailey or Christina Gaskin, while Temi Fagbenle managed only 16 minutes as she battles a knee problem.
England had trailed by 13 at the break, but did not let their heads drop and actually battled back to a 46-46 tie in the fourth quarter before Hungary found an extra gear.
Gemma Bullard led the English effort with 16 points while Femi Hamilton added 13.
The effort can give Ball plenty of encouragement against a team in the division above.
"We are moving in the right direction and it was great to see Femi and Gemma play with such a desire to attack the Hungarian defensive pressure," Ball added.
"We have to be able to improve when we are put on the free throw line (the team shot only 8/18), but the shots we took today were far better and in the second half we hit 67% from the 2 point area."
England will face Bulgaria, Finland, Scotland and Estonia in the group stages once the championship gets under way.