Great Britain Under-20s had little trouble dispatching of the England Under-18s in Saturday, in their first warm-up of the summer.
Head Coach Doug Leichner’s side jumped out to 17-5 lead in the first quarter and never looked back, as their age and experience proved too much for the talented 1995 born generation, who were without starters Luke Nelson and Mo Soluade.
Raphell Thomas-Edwards had 11 points and 7 rebounds to lead GB, with Devon van Oostrum adding 9 and 11 assists, whilst Jules Christian led England with 11 points.
“First off we were very excited about the opportunity to play against the England Under-18s, this is a great little event,” commented Leichner after the game. “It’s something I know our guys talked about, so it was exciting to play that game.
“Offensively I thought we did some good things in transition; we want to run, we want to push it, we want to do some random ball screens and get our point guards in action and flowing, so there was some good execution there. Defensively, I though we guarded the ball screen well early, but they started to pick it apart a little bit so we’ve got break that down on video.”
Having only had one day together with the full squad, the U20 Head Coach is focused on the team getting on the same page over the coming week.
“We’ve got to come together, we’ve only had a day or so with everyone together, so tomorrow we’ll practice and then we’ll have the next two days to get together kind of getting us all ready. Basically the team has been formed, the foundations are in place – now it’s about the adjustments you make when you go to national team camp or you play your other scrimmages and friendlies,” he added. “This is a huge, huge next three days for us, we’re gonna do some of our defence, zone offence and zone defence – so we’ve got a lot of work.”
Rowell Graham finishing with 8 points on 4/4 shooting for GB and Zak Wells added 6 points and 9 rebounds.
Dwayne Orija and Josh McSwiggan added 10 each for England, whilst Tyrell Isaacs finished with 7.
Next up for the U20s is a two game series against Belgium in Bristol on the 21st and 22nd of June, before they fly out to Helsinki, to play Finland, and then Portugal in Portugal, before returning to England where they will face Holland in Ipswich.
Meanwhile, the U18s are preparing for the Future Stars International Junior Tournament which starts on the 28th June at Surrey Sports Park.
- There were a lot of disappointed people with regards to the game being closed doors. As someone said to me before the game, it would be great to make this an annual event and really promote it to spectators.
- I actually expected the game to be a lot closer than it was, but the difference physically between the two teams was just too much. Even though the U18s were taller, the U20s were much stronger built – two years makes such a difference at that age. Of course, no Luke Nelson, who has a minor injury that should see him return next week, or Mo Soluade, also made a huge difference. The Nelson – DVO match-up was the one everyone was hoping to see!
- GB U20 starters: Devon van Oostrum, Joe Hart, Raphell Thomas-Edwards, Rowell Graham, Zak Wells/England U18 starters: Jules Christian, Tyrell Isaacs, Ben Mead, Kavell Bigby-Williams and Kingsley Okoroh
- The big surprise for me on the U18s was Josh McSwiggan, who didn’t end up playing in the NIJT but has improved drastically since I last saw him a couple years back. Was confident with his shot, and has got impressively athletic.
- Meanwhile, on the U20s, Raphell Thomas-Edwards looked great. Having just finished his sophomore year at University at Buffalo, the 6’6″ 240lb physical specimen, is said to be transferring to D2 school Gannon next season, but will no doubt be featuring heavily for the U20s this summer.
- The U20s are incredibly small – after 7 foot Zak Wells, the next tallest player is 6’7″/6’8″. The struggled on the glass at times against England, a challenge they will no doubt face throughout the Euros.
- Devon van Oostrum showed once again he was a level above, going on a 7 point run by himself followed by a behind the back assist to Zak Wells at the end of the first half to help GB cement their lead. Seemed like he was on for a 15-20 assist game if it wasn’t for fouls and missed shots.
- You can see the U20s squad, as it currently stands, here.
- Nick Lewis was the only U20 on the squad unable to play, still nursing a calf injury, it remains unclear whether or not he will be healthy in time.
- Players from Steve Bucknall’s England U18 squad at the NIJT that weren’t at the game; Tamas Okros, Ben Lawson, and Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye.