Great Britain ended their FIBA U16 European Championship Division B campaign on a high, with a close-fought 80-76 win over Romania in Sarajevo. Amari Wlliams got the crucial jumper with just four seconds remaining.
Williams had 7 points, ten rebounds and five assists in a fine all-round team performance. Matt Marsh produced a game-high 17 points, while there were two other GB players in double-digit scoring – Joshua Uduje (14 points, six rebounds) and Cameron Hildreth (10 points and eight rebounds).
After a difficult week in which a number of players had been subject to serious food poisoning, it was just a relief to see GB back to something like a normal roster. While four players had been missing from both previous games against Russia and Poland, just Veron Eze would be absent for this one.
In spite of the disruption and defeat in both cases, GB had performed creditably, leading Poland going into the final quarter and they would need to do so again, facing a team who had beaten them in the group stage.
Segun Shodunke & Victor Faroukou continued alongside Hildreth, Uduje, & Williams in the starting roles and while Romania started strongly, GB pulled them back with a mixture of defensive discipline and eye for the fast break.
Up by a point after the first (16-15), a high-scoring second quarter then produced over 50 points. That might have been surprising given the two teams had already met but the skill and entertainment factor was high.
GB and Romania could not be separated at the half (42-42) or at the end of three quarters (57-57) and neither team led by more than 8 at any one point. So a terrific, quality game like this was always destined for a tight finish.
Hildreth’s layup under pressure nudged GB back level with just over a minute left on the clock and it was the Sussex man who had the assist when Williams got the vital jumper.
While Uduje added a couple of free throws, there was no time for Romania to come back and GB confirmed the win.
Coach Vear told www.gbbasketball.com, “This tournament has been a roller coaster but we finished on a great high beating a team who beat us by 20 only a week ago which shows how far we have come in such a short period of time.”
“The team and staff have had to go through a huge amount of adversity over the past few days and I am so proud how they reacted today.”
GB finish 7th in Division B in all and in spite of the off-court problems, it has been fascinating to see many of them adapt with confidence to FIBA level.
While many will now be available for the U18 team, we hope to see many of them get the chance to achieve what they are undoubtedly capable of doing in future years.
Source: GB Basketball