Ahead of what is being dubbed as the most competitive Women’s EuroBasket to date and following the retirement of fellow GB legend Chantelle Handy in February, coach Chema Buceta has moved quickly to promote Fagbenle.
“It's a great honour and responsibility to be named captain and to wear this title,” Fagbenle said, who helped the team qualify for this summer’s tournament.
“I’ve been with the national team for a very long time so this feels like it was meant to be, to be honest.
“It wasn’t really announced to me but just kind of mentioned in passing in conversation [with Coach Chema] that I was going to be the new captain, and it was like okay, cool, it's my turn.
“I’ve had quite a journey and I'm just very glad I made it this far and that Coach Chema deems me worthy of this honour.”
A EuroBasket and Olympic veteran, having notably been a cornerstone of GB’s success at Women’s EuroBasket 2019 and also featuring at the London 2012 Olympics, Fagbenle has a level of experience that is vital for the current roster.
That’s without mentioning her considerable exploits at club level, where she became the first British player to win a WNBA Championship in 2017 with the Minnesota Lynx, among a plethora of other accolades collected in Europe since.
“Those moments certainly give me the experience to help the team now, and also help my leadership. In the past I've tried to lead by example, and sometimes verbally as well, but I view being the captain as an all-encompassing role, so I have to lead in every way I can," added Fagbenle, 30.
“I have to make sure I learn each of my teammates, that I bring us all together and keep reminding us of what we're doing and why we're doing it.
“I'm not just the only player left here from 2019, but also 2012 back in the Olympics, so from then until now we've come such a long way and experienced and endured so much to get to where we are today. It is important we don't take that for granted and understand that it took a lot of work to get to here and that we continue to fight hard together.”
As France, Germany and Slovenia await in the group stages of EuroBasket in mid-June, Fagbenle reflects on the learnings of 2019 – where Great Britain secured a fantastic fourth-placed finish, their best placing to date at EuroBasket – and the mindset her teammates will have to embody going into this summer’s competition.
“You have to give it your all at all times. There's no time to take a moment off. Everybody wants to win. Everybody wants to get to the top in EuroBasket and we have the potential to do so.
“We can’t think that any opponent is going to be an easy win or walk in the park. Everything has to be done giving 100%, fighting and showing no mercy. That's the mentality I had in 2019, feeling like I am unstoppable and that we're getting these wins, you know?
“We have posters around camp reminding us that we're on the road to Paris 2024 and they’ve been there for quite a few years now, and it’s important we don’t forget why we're doing this because we believe that we can get to the Olympics again.”