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The Great Britain Under-20s were brought back to reality over the past two days as they suffered two consecutive defeats to Belgium, losing their undefeated record and bringing their final record in their warm-up games to 6-2.
GB U20s vs Belgium Game 1
GB were shocked 94-71 on Wednesday, facing a Belgium side playing with an intensity and pressure they were yet to go up against.
The British side were plagued by turnovers (20), struggling with the Belgium pressure, and a lack of intensity on defense allowing Belgium to shoot the lights out, as they went 46% from three (11/24) and 48% overall (32/66).
Jumping out to an early lead as Ryan Richards hit his first four field goal attempts, Belgium fought back taking a 15-13 lead with 1:48 left in the quarter. GB kept within striking distance and a Devon Van Oostrum three just before the first quarter buzzer gave GB a 19-18 lead at the break.
Belgium, pressured GB’s guards throughout,taking an immediate lead in the second quarter and stretching the deficit to 9 points, 42-31 with 2:38 left in the half. It was GB’s three point shooting that kept them in it (7/16 in the first half) and another Van Oostrum triple just before the halftime buzzer reduced Belgium’s lead to 46-39 at the half.
Belgium came out in second half fired up, stretching the lead to 18 points, 61-43, just 4 minutes into the 3rd period. Head Coach Tim Lewis ran his bench for the last 3 minutes of the period, and entered the final quarter down 75-56.
Making one last push, Van Oostrum and Richards checked back in with 7:15 left in the game, and a left hook from Ryan in the post reduced the defict to 78-64.
As Belgium banked in a three pointer to stretch the lead to 85-64 with 5 minutes left, it proved to be the dagger as the starters checked out and the bench finished the game.
Ryan Richards led GB with 18 points and 4 rebounds, Adam Thoseby added 13 points, Devon Van Oostrum had 11 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal, Alex Marcotullio had 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists, Levi Noel added 8 points, whilst John Bantock had 7 points.
GB U20s vs Belgium Game 2
Despite a much better performance, GB still couldn’t do enough as they went down to Belgium 85-74 in their final preparation game before the Europeans.
GB finally won the rebounding battle (just, 40-37), but again suffered from turnovers (21) and a contentious second intentional foul call on Devon Van Oostrum with 5 minutes to play that saw him have to exit the game.
With 24 lead changes occuring throughout the game, there was little to pull the teams apart, but with GB up 67-66 with 4:43 to play, Belgium’s Gilet got into the lane and made a tough basket whilst being fouled by Devon Van Oostrum. Van Oostrum had to sit after being called for his second intentional foul and could only watch from the bench as Belgium made the free throw to take the lead by two points.
Belgium sensed the momentum change and quickly extended their lead to nine points, 79-70 with just over a minute left. There was a small run by GB, punctuated by an Ali Mackay fastbreak dunk to get them within 5 with 37 seconds left, but it was too little too late as Belgium sealed it at the line.
Ryan Richards led GB with 25 points on 10/21 shooting (1/2 from deep, 4/9 at the line), 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal, Alex Marcotullio had 18 points (7/17 from the floor, 1/2 at the line), 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals, Van Oostrum added 17 points (5/8 from the floor, 6/9 at the line), 7 rebounds, and 5 assists, whilst Will Hall had 9 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists on 4/5 shooting, and Adam Thoseby had 3 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal.
Head Coach Tim Lewis was positive about the team’s performance despite the losses:
“I’m really pleased with how we played today (Thursday), Belgium are a good team but we definitely made strides between the two games. That’s why we wanted a team like Belgium here because it raises the level and I think it’s put us in a good position to go to Bosnia.”
GB now look to make their final preparations before opening their European Championship B Division campaign in Bosnia with a game against Portugal on Thursday July 14.
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