LONDON – The Standard Life Great Britain Women’s basketball team will play the Atlanta Dream of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) at the Manchester Evening News Arena (MEN) on Sun. May 29 as part of WNBA Live – Manchester 2011 it was announced today by the WNBA, Manchester City Council and British Basketball.
This announcement follows Sunday’s important decision that the Great Britain men’s and women’s basketball teams will participate in the 2012 Olympics. The game also marks the first WNBA game to be played in Europe and is only the second time the league has held a game outside of the United States. Founded in 1997, the WNBA is the world’s longest-running women’s professional sports league.
Standard Life GB player, Jo Leedham, said: “I think it is a fantastic opportunity for the GB team and obviously is a great moment for the WNBA to come over and play in Europe. I think it is great for women's basketball especially in the UK, and by having such a quality team in the Atlanta Dream as opponents, I feel it can only inspire many more young players in Britain. It will be a huge test for our team, but will help in our preparations and will be an exciting moment for GB and for the WNBA alike.”
“My teammates and I are looking forward to the opportunity to compete in the first WNBA game to be played in Europe,” said Dream forward Angel McCoughtry. “Women’s basketball is truly a global game and that is something we want to continue to grow. This is an exciting way for us to tip off our season and promote the game leading up to the 2012 Olympics.”
The Atlanta Dream made the WNBA Playoffs the past two seasons and reached the 2010 WNBA Finals in only its third year in the league. Led by McCoughtry, a rising star and 2009 Rookie of the Year, the Dream ranked as the WNBA’s top scoring team (95.5 ppg) last season. Other marquee Dream players include Iziane Castro Marques, who averaged a career-high 16.9 points last season, and Sancho Lyttle, who averaged 9.9 rebounds, third most in the WNBA.
The Standard Life GB Women – who will be making their first-ever Olympic appearance in 2012 – enjoyed a very successful summer in 2010 when they qualified for the upcoming EuroBasket 2011 for the first time in their history. Jo Leedham, drafted by the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun in 2010, is a vital member of the team.
Councillor Mike Amesbury, Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, said, “This is great for sports fans in Manchester, as we will welcome some of the greatest basketball players in the world to our city. The match will attract thousands of visitors to our city for an exceptional opportunity to see WNBA stars perform on this side of the Atlantic.”
WNBA Live – Manchester 2011, is part of a multiyear partnership between Manchester City Council, the NBA, WNBA and USA Basketball that will give basketball fans in Manchester the opportunity to attend live games in the city. Along with the WNBA game and the USA Basketball games scheduled for July 2012, the partnership will also bring the first-ever NBA preseason game to Manchester in the autumn of 2013, marking the first time an NBA team has played in the UK outside of London.
About the WNBA
The WNBA – which features 12 teams and is the most successful women’s professional team sports league in the world – is a unique global sports property combining competition, sportsmanship, and entertainment value with its status as an icon for social change, achievement, and diversity. Following a 2010 season that included a fourth consecutive year of attendance growth, surging WNBA Finals ratings, and strong increases in traffic to WNBA.com and WNBA Mobile sites, the league will tip off its historic 15th season on June 3. Through WNBA Cares, the WNBA is deeply committed to creating programs that improve the quality of life for all people, with a special emphasis on programs that promote a healthy lifestyle and positive body image, increase breast and women’s health awareness, support youth and family development, and focus on education.
About British Basketball
In December 2007 British Performance Basketball Ltd (BPB) came into existence following an agreement between UK Sport and the BBF with the aim of steering the Great Britain men's and women's basketball teams through to the London 2012 Olympics. At that time BPB was a wholly owned subsidiary of UK Sport established for the single purpose of processing World Class funding for the delivery of the GB programmes. Following formal recognition of the British structure in December 2008, the operation of Great Britain teams is now managed by BBF's wholly owned subsidiary company British Performance Basketball Ltd (BPB). Both the British Basketball Federation and its performance company British Performance Basketball now trade under the title of "British Basketball".
The summer of 2008 saw British Basketball take further strides on the world basketball stage when the senior men's team, consisting of players with a world-class pedigree such as Luol Deng, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Joel Freeland and Andy Betts, compete in Group A of EuroBasket with the aim of securing one of the places available for the 2009 European Finals in Poland. Also in 2008 British Basketball's 'Game On' high performance strategy was finalised and approved by all the home nations. For the first time in Great Britain this strategy brought together all key stakeholders in developing a single coherent performance pathway to develop talented youngsters across Britain. This summer will once again see the GB senior men competing in the 2011 Eurobasket in Lithuania, however for the first time ever the GB senior women’s team have also qualified and will play in the women’s EuroBasket in Poland in June.
British Basketball’s men’s and women’s teams have been granted automatic qualification for the London 2012 Olympics by FIBA following a successful ‘Say Yes’ campaign designed to raise awareness of the decision and support for the teams.
About Manchester City Council
As partner to the NBA and host of this series of games, Manchester continues to strengthen its impressive reputation for successfully staging major international sports events that bring long-term social and economic benefits to the City and its residents. Manchester’s excellent range of accessible sports venues and facilities, combined with its school and community sports development programmes provide the springboard for sporting stars of the future and events such as these play a key role in the creation of sporting opportunities across the city. Manchester will continue to host major events that deliver real benefits to local people whilst also showcasing the city both as a vibrant place of national and international significance and as a global sporting hub.