Games choice hard on Sheffield Hatters players

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GREAT Britain assistant coach Vanessa Ellis says it was an ‘extremely tough’ decision to leave Sheffield Hatters pair Stephanie Gandy and Lauren Thomas-Johnson out of the Olympic women’s basketball squad.

Ellis, who is also head coach of the Hatters, had to break the news to her players.

She said: “It was an extremely tough thing to do. When I had to tell them it was on my birthday, so it wasn’t a pleasant thing to do.

“Both girls were very disappointed. It was particularly difficult for Steph because she’s a naturalised player and we’re only allowed one in the squad.

“We ended up choosing Natalie Stafford. It was nothing to do with her as a player - she was good enough to make the 12.

“Lauren was unlucky as well, she was so close to making the squad.”

The British team have been in excellent form. While the men’s squad, featuring the NBA talent of Luol Deng, grab many of the headlines, Ellis and head coach Tom Maher have been shaping a squad that may cause a few upsets in London when action begins on July 28.

“We’ve still got things to work on,” said Ellis. “We had a great win recently against the Czech Republic, who are ranked fourth in the world.

“I think we can surprise a few people at the Olympics with this team.”

Great Britain will be playing three matches in Sheffield against Angola (July 13), Australia (July 14) and France (July 15).