Heartbreak for British Basketball as the U16 Men ended a remarkable campaign with an agonising 4th place finish at the FIBA European Championships – just missing out on becoming the 3rd British team have been promoted in the same year.
The team made light work of the group phase, finishing top of Group D with a perfect 5-0 record after a series of impressive victories over Luxembourg (77-43), Georgia (85-58), MKD (94-52), Kosovo (57-35) and Portugal (64-54).
Buoyed by their earlier success, GB breezed past Hungary (85-54) in the quarter-finals to set up a final four showdown with Greece – just one victory away from promotion.
Greece, however, proved too powerful. Unable to match Greece’s offensive firepower, GB fell short (52-72) and missed out on a place in the tournament’s finale.
Despite defeat, confidence was high heading into GB’s third place game. Having already beaten Georgia in the group phase, the team knew a well executed 40 minutes would be enough to claim 3rd place and the last remaining promotion position. A stunning first quarter (20-4) seemed to have all but sealed the deal for GB, creating an early 16 point deficit from which Georgia were likely unable to recover. A steady 2nd stanza (20-21) kept the team’s advantage intact heading into half-time. After the break, however, it was all Georgia: the side came out with a renewed sense of purpose, putting together a breathtaking 20-0 run to stun GB and move ahead for the first time in the contest. With momentum well and truly with them, Georgia capitalised further to close out the 3rd quarter with a 7 point lead (45-52). Not to be deterred, GB started the 4th the stronger of the two teams. A 5-0 run sparked renewed hope, the game separated by a single possession. In a back and forth final few minutes it was Georgia who held their nerve, GB missing several vital free throws in the closing seconds. A Georgia bucket at the death sealed the game (63-64) and with it promotion to Division A.
A heartbreaking end to a wonderful campaign.
Group Phase – Group D
Great Britain 77 v 43 Luxembourg; M. OKROS 18p
Georgia 58 v 85 Great Britain; E. DONALDSON 17p
Great Britain 94 v 52 MKD; M. OKROS 22p
Kosovo 35 v 57 Great Britain; M. OKROS 13p
Portugal 54 v 64 Great Britain; O. SULAIMAN 18p
Great Britain 85 v 54 Hungary; C. FEENEY 17p
Greece 75 v 52 Great Britain; M. OKROS 14p
3rd place game
Great Britain 63 v 64 Georgia; M. OKROS 25p