- National Teams
England under-16’s are now just one win away from securing promotion to Division A of the European Championships after beating Slovenia 73-65 on Wednesday to reach the semi-finals.
Alan Keane’s side needed to win by a margin of 7+ points after Israel defeated Belgium to keep their promotion hopes alive and did so in the final minute as Kemar Hawes and Carl Wheatle made some vital free throws under huge pressure.
The margin of victory means England edge out Slovenia and Belgium in a 3-way head-to-head tie and progress from Group E alongside Israel.
Wheatle led the way with an 18-10 double-double while Hawes added 16 points and Luke Mitchell scored 14. Rayell Eytle-Rock put in an all-round display with 9 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists while Sam Japhet-Mathias was a basket away from a double-double with 8 points and 10 rebounds.
England raced out of the blocks and opened up an early 18-7 advantage before their opponents finished the quarter strongly to cut the gap to 3 at 20-17. The lead peaked at 13 points after a 12-2 start to the second but once again Slovenia battled back to go into half-time trailing 37-30 on the back of an 8-2 run.
The lead extended back into double figures prior to a 10-2 run from Slovenia as they continued to fight from behind. England maintained their advantage but it had been reduced to 3 heading into the fourth, 58-55 ahead.
Slovenia managed to stay in reach and more importantly, within 7 points as the clock ticked down. Nelson Boachie-Yiadom’s basket made it 67-61 with 3:22 left but the gap would become four and remained that way approaching the final minute.
Eytle-Rock halved his free throw attempts before Hawes held his nerve at the line to sink both foul shots and make it 72-65 with 44 seconds remaining. Slovenia missed a 3-pointer and Wheatle wrapped up the win making 1/2 from the line.
An impressive victory for England sees them progress despite falling to an 0-2 record in Group E. They will now take on Montenegro in Friday’s semi-final at 20:00 UK time.