Williams on the shining lights that helped England to series win

Francesca Williams was keen to shine a spotlight on her England team-mates despite being named Player of the Series in their series defeat of Uganda. 

The Vitality Roses completed the 3-0 whitewash with a 64-51 defeat of the She Cranes at the Copper Box Arena on Sunday. 

And the Loughborough Lightning defender heaped praise on defensive partner Funmi Fadoju who was one of five debutants across the series. 

“When you take a player like Funmi, she’s such a raw talent and she’s such a natural ball winner that when I’m playing behind her, my role is definitely to make her shine and bring out the best in her,” the 24-year-old said. 

“We keep that constant communication, she probably gets annoyed at my voice throughout the game. But she’s worked so hard this series and definitely taken her opportunities. 

“It’s been such a great series, it’s really exciting to see some new combinations out there. And I think we learned loads throughout the test matches.” 

England opened the series with a 60-51 win at Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena, overturning a half-time deficit to defeat the She Cranes, who are ranked sixth in the world. 

As the series moved to the Copper Box Arena in London, the Vitality Roses began to click with Williams awarded player of the match, her first in international colours, in Saturday’s 53-45 triumph. 

The home side saved their best till last, winning by 13 points to claim the clean sweep, with goal shooter Olivia Tchine starring as she started an international match for the first time. 

Tchine struck up a telepathic partnership with Eleanor Cardwell in the shooting circle, as co-captains Imogen Allison and Laura Malcolm ran Uganda ragged in the mid-court. 

Head coach Jess Thirlby was delighted with her side’s performances as new combinations across the court clicked into gear. 

She said: “I think the likes of Liv and Zara [Everitt] and Funmi, in particular, really earned their place in that starting seven. 

“We stuck with that team coming out in the third quarter, which is something we’ve not done before and Uganda really came hard at us.  

“But that was a great challenge for us to unravel and negotiate in that third quarter and then a more senior group had the opportunity to build a brilliant lead in the fourth quarter and stamped their authority early on in the first five minutes.  

“There’s lots to be pleased with, lots of areas that I can now see and have confidence that we’ve learned a lot over a short space of time tactically; and also just the togetherness and the connections between some less familiar combinations.” 

Nine of the players selected for the Uganda series will now head Down Under to take on Commonwealth champions Australia later this month. 

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