Duco van Oostrum, checks in from Romania with his third blog of the Great Britain Under 20s’ 2013 campaign, looking at their second day win over Luxembourg.
U20 European Championship B, Pitesti, Romania
Great Britain 106 (33, 48, 80)
Luxembourg 92 (18, 50, 73)
Today’s opponent, mighty Luxembourg. We had watched them yesterday versus Hungary, and I knew we were in trouble.
They lost badly to Hungary but shot plenty from anywhere on the court. They mostly missed. But you could also see how if they hit those shots, they’d be a very dangerous team, and after missing so many v Hungary, clearly they were due.
They had beaten the Dutch team (who are 2-0 in the other group) in warm ups as well, so this match was by no means a given—there are no such matches in these championships. For GB,
Matthew Don tried in warm ups but it was decided he would rest another day.
GB had their best start so far. Luxembourg decided to sit in an active trapping zone, trying to force Devon away from the play. As any coach will know, good outside shooting will kill any zone. And GB did just that.
Devon picked out the open shooters: Joe Hart and Nick Lewis let it rain 3s but Luxembourg persisted with their game plan. Good GB defense caused turnovers, which limited shot opportunities for Luxembourg.
From 23-8 and a 4-point run from Grant MacKay, this first quarter ended with the ridiculous score of 33-18 and it looked as if a blow out was in the making.
Guess again. Luxembourg only missed 5 shots in the second quarter and they rattled GB hitting tough shot after tough shot. It started so well with Grant throwing down a slam from a nice Lewis Champion dime, and Lewis himself hit his first points of the tournament moments later.
But shooting became a struggle; the open shots and lay ups didn’t drop, confidence also dropping after seeing shot after shot go in from the Luxembourgers.
Laurent, (who finished with 29p) had fun with his fade-away-inyourface-step backs, proved a real pain for GB—the quarter score was ended up 32-15; Luxembourg for a 50-48 lead. Wow.
Joe Hart had added a couple of more 3s and Rowell hit free throws, but there was hardly any other scoring. Luckily, the ambulance crew with defibrillator, was sitting only 2 rows in front of us, because the two GB supporters were close to collapse.
Luxembourg extended the lead immediately, but then GB started to scrap and fight for every possession. More 3s from Joe and Devon got GB the lead.
John Stewart stepped up with a massive and-one play; Raph Thomas-Edwards beasted the boards, bullied his way through the quick defensive hands, and ended up with his best game in a GB vest; Nick got another three and he discovered he could slash against them.
Luxembourg’s fouls started having an effect, and Devon could score his points from the free throw line;Lux just couldn’t handle GB’s power. The double digit GB lead was slashed before the quarter to 7 again, however; 80-73 after 3.
No score for 2 minutes in this ‘all offense’ game and Luxembourg hit the first one to cut the GB advantage to 5. But then probably one of the game-deciding sequences: Nick Lewis drains a three and on the other end Luxembourg have to work hard to get a shot, Devon blocks it and goes coast-to-coast—GB have their double-digit lead back.
From then on, GB controls the game—finally. Nick goes on a scoring frenzy (14 points in the quarter) and Raph dominates the glass and inside scoring, finishing with a man’s double-double (17p, 15 reb).
Luxembourg’s strategy ultimately fails, as Devon also finishes with a double-double again, and GB have 4 players in double figures and nicely spread scoring (but yes, GB did score a lot of points).
It must have been a record-breaking night, if records are kept. GB shot 39 threes. Yes, 39—and hit 16. They out-rebounded Lux by 20. So how was this a game? Lux shot 60% for the game, including 53% from 3-point range. That’s how.
After all is said and done, 2-0. The team certainly isn’t playing at its peak yet but they do have two double-digit wins. Next up are the hosts Romania, who beat Slovakia after having dropped their first game to the stars and favourites Poland.
It’ll be the final game of the day and Romania will be supported by a big home crowd again—which means more perspiration on the floor (humidity is high here) and more cigarette smoke in the gym.
Upon arrival at the hotel, our parking spot was blocked and there was big ‘reserved’ sign there. Turned out the hotel hosted a massive Romanian wedding.
However, the receptionists runs out, yells at the father’s groom to move his car, and it turns out the ‘reserved’ sign is there for us as we get directed in our parking spot. Amazing.
Wedding Crashers Paul and Duco. We didn’t mind so much after that that the traditional Romanian music (accordion and fiddle) kept going until about 4am—I can probably join in sing-alongs now.
On the way to the restaurant we walked past the town square fountain to see it in a display of psychedelic multi-coloured sprays. I am sure that the readers will be happy to know we had an amazing meal after 10pm, sitting outside, and trying to pick up some Romanian phrases—so far, mulțumesc is as far as we’ve got.
Scores and Stats:
Nick Lewis, 23p (6/11 3s), 3 steals
Devon van Oostrum, 18p, 11 assists, 5reb, 9 times fouled against, +21 on court
Joe Hart, 18p (6/12 3s), 4 assists, 3 reb.
Raph Thomas-Edwards, 17p, 15 reb, 3 steals, 2 assists—a massive +27 on court.
John Stewart, 9p, 9 reb, 2 assists.
Rowell Graham, 8p, 7 reb, 2 steals.
Grant MacKay, 6p, 2 reb, 2 assists.
Zac Wells, 5p, 4 reb.
Lewis Champion-Alleyne, 2p, 1 assist.
Joe Lockwood, DNP
Matthew Don, back injury