Great Britain Under-20s showed their record is not reflective of their ability as they secured an 85-74 victory over previously unbeaten Czech Republic, to make small amends for their under-par performance at the Division B European Championships in Sarajevo, Bosnia.
It was a case of too little too late as the GB side were eliminated earlier in the day when Portugal beat Norway, giving them a fourth place finish in Group C with a 3-2 record, meaning they can now finish no higher than ninth place.
Richards had a dominant first quarter performance, scoring 21 points before finishing the game with 27 points and 7 rebounds. Devon Van Oostrum had 19 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals, Alex Marcotullio added 15 points and 7 rebounds, and big man Ali Fraser had 13 points and 5 rebounds. Adam Thoseby had 10.
Ryan Richards came out firing, scoring 13 points in the first four minutes without missing a field goal. Devon Van Oostrum added a layup, and midway through the first quarter, GB were up 15-7. Add another three pointer from Ryan (16 points) and an Ali Fraser fast break lay-up and-1 and GB had scored 11 unanswered points to give them a 21-7 lead with 4 minutes left in the quarter.
Czech Republic responded with a 6-0 run of their own, before Richards (who else) hit another three to take his personal tally to 19 points and give GB a 26-13 lead. The Czechs once again responded, scoring a quick 5 points, before Richards got to the line and made two more free throws. Richards finished with 21 first quarter points, giving GB a 28-21 lead after the first period.
Marcotullio came out firing in the second period, hitting two threes early as GB were up 34-23 with under a minute gone in the second period. GB continued to pile on the pressure as they extended the lead to 14 points, 44-30, behind 7 points from Van Oostrum, with just over a minute left in the half.
The Czechs went on a little run of their own, before Ali Fraser hit a shot just before the halftime buzzer to give GB a 47-35 lead at the break.
GB came out in the second half cold, as they missed 4 consecutive shots and 2 free throws. Czech Republic capitalised, going on a 8-0 run prompting a GB timeout with 7 minutes remaining in the third. It paid off as Fraser dunked off a Van Oostrum assist to put GB up 49-43.
Ryan Richards scored his first point since the opening quarter as he drained a free throw to put GB up 55-47, but the Czechs run could not be stopped. They outscored GB 19-8 in the period, and went into the final quarter down only one, 55-54.
The fourth quarter saw a quick 5-0 run from GB widen the gap once more, taking a 60-54 lead but the Czech Republic would not go away. With GB holding a slim 76-72 lead, Adam Thoseby drained a three to give them a 7 point cushion with 1:50 left.
Richards drew an offensive foul on Ondrej Balvin on the Czechs next possession, fouling the big man out with 12 points and 12 rebounds and a minute and a half left to play. It proved to be the turning point as Czech Republic would score only once more as GB went on a 6-0 run to finish the game behind four points from Van Oostrum at the line and seal the victory.
GB will now have a day of rest before taking on Israel on Wednesday evening.
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