British Basketball is celebrating for a second time this summer, after the U18 Men capped off a sensational summer with a second place finish at the FIBA European Championships in Tallinn confirming a second promotion of the international season – the first time that two British teams have been promoted in the same year, since the institution of the modern British Basketball programme a decade ago.
The tournament began in encouraging fashion: GB powering past Czech Republic (84-55) and Netherlands (87-76) to open the group phase. A close defeat to Sweden (67-69), the team’s only real blemish, was quickly forgotten as the squad rounded out the stage with wins against Luxembourg (91-82) and Albania (100-43) to advance to the quarter-finals top of the group.
A nail-biting quarter-final came down to the final possessions of the game as GB edged out Bulgaria (76-73) to set up a semi-final clash against Estonia – the side just one win away from promotion to Division A.
Estonia proved a much easier test for the team, promotion and a finals berth earned with a comfortable (75-61) semi-final victory.
GB took control of the final in the 2nd quarter, after a back and forth opening 10 minutes, capitalising on Croatian foul trouble to establish a double-digit lead. Nerves were once again gangling after the break, however, as Croatia battled back to within 3 points to close the 3rd stanza – setting up a grandstand finish to the tournament’s finale. Despite falling behind by 2 points, early in the quarter, GB rallied to wrestle back the lead with under 2 minutes on the clock. Unfazed, it was Croatia who would finish the stronger: levelling the game before missing the chance to win the contest at the buzzer. The game would be settled in overtime. Sensing the game’s momentum in their favour, the Croatian side poured in 15 points in the OT period to take the contest 84-90 and claim the Division B title.
A bittersweet end to a wonderful campaign for GB U18 Men.
Group Phase – Group A
Great Britain 84 v 55 Czech Republic; C. FULLER 17p
Netherlands 76 v 87 Great Britain; J. HENRY MCCALLA 17p
Great Britain 67 v 69 Sweden; C. FULLER 11p
Luxembourg 82 v 91 Great Britain; J. HENRY MCCALLA 35p
Great Britain 100 v 43 Albania; N. ROBINSON 18p
Great Britain 76 v 73 Bulgaria; N. BOACHIE-YIADOM 21p-17r
Great Britain 75 v 61 Estonia; R. SPENCE 18p-19r
Great Britain 84 v 90 Croatia; O.RUSSELL 20p
Kayne Henry (14.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg) was named to the All-Tournament Team.
Source: GB Basketball