|Chantelle Handy believes Great Britain are improving with every tournament|
By Paul Nilsen
A little more than 18 months ago, Great Britain were entering unknown territory when they qualified for their first major basketball tournament. But when they step out in France at EuroBasket Women 2013 next summer, it will be their third consecutive major tournament - something Chantelle Handy believes will make a significant difference to their prospects.
The 25-year-old, who is currently playing in the Turkish League with Mersin, has been part of the Great Britain set-up since the Division B days and believes the team has come a long way in a short space of time.
Despite the fact that the players still don't know who will be coaching them next summer with the hot seat currently vacant, they have precious experience to call upon after appearances at EuroBasket Women and the Olympics - something which she feels should serve them well.
"Poland was tough because we were so close to beating both Lithuania and Russia, but that came down to a lack of experience and we couldn't finish like we wanted," recalled Handy.
"But now we have a lot more experience than we did back in Poland, and I think that we have also shown this in our development over the past few years.
"Overall, the Olympics was also a great experience for us as a team, and yes we didn't get a win, but we showed people that Great Britain are a team to watch out for in the future.
"Both our own, and also the men's programme have been working hard over the last few years to develop our teams so we could compete at London 2012, and I think we did that with pride and with the huge support of the British public.
"We definitely still played to our potential, and although we are still one of the least experienced teams in Europe, we have now competed at the highest level, and we have taken a lot from it, so will continue to develop and prepare for EuroBasket Women 2013."
|""The group we have drawn is good for us because we are familiar with Latvia and France" says Handy looking ahead to next summer|
She continued, "We might have a different team, we still don't know about the coaching position just yet, but I think no matter what, we will always prepare and work hard in the time we have together before France.
"There's also our own individual work throughout the season, and we will be ready when the tournament starts to do what we do best - to play with pride and take on the challenge ahead of us.
"The group we have drawn is good for us because we are familiar with Latvia and France since we have ran into them both quite a few times over the past few years.
"Still, it's going to be tough because they know us also, and yes, it could have been worse, but it will still be a competitive group and naturally we are looking forward to the challenge."
The man who has presided over the Great Britain journey so far has been Australian Tom Maher, a phlegmatic character and play-caller of significant stature who according to Handy, has been the main driving force behind the teams' evolution.
"Tom (Maher) has done great things for the programme and developed us all as individuals, as well as a team," insisted the forward.
"He pushed us and I think without this, we wouldn't have been able to get to where we are today."
If Maher isn't re-installed as head coach, his mantra is already engrained in his players since Handy was quick to add, "We might not have the talent of some other nations, but we have worked hard to get where we are today with what we have. And, we will continue to do so in order to keep Great Britain as competitive as possible."
Right now, Handy is focused primarily on her duties with Mersin - both domestically, and also in EuroCup Women where her team have reached the last sixteen of the competition.
She is currently reaping the rewards of playing at the highest level of her career to date, and is producing some impressive numbers.
"Yes, it's a great league in Turkey and every game is a challenge because the league has a lot of good players in it, and no game is ever easy," smiled Handy.
"This is great for my individual development as a player, because I'm going against some of the best players in the world every week, and this is where you get better - by playing both against and with the best in the game.
"This can only help me and the Great Britain national team."