- National Teams
England under-16’s battled back from as many as 21 points down to beat Israel 77-76 and avoid relegation at the European Championships, in Lithuania on Saturday.
Alan Keane’s side trailed 24-45 in the second quarter but launched a brilliant fightback to set up a repeat showdown with Greece for the final place in Division A next summer.
Nelson Boachie-Yiadom led the way with an impressive 27 points and 16 rebounds in a terrific performance for his side. Jacob Round added 16 points while Kaiyem Cleary weighed in with 15 points in a composed display from the line.
England were able to overturn an eight-point deficit heading into the fourth with four points in quick succession from Boachie-Yiadom enough to seal a remarkable turnaround.
Earlier, Round opened the scoring with a dunk on the fast break and it would prove to be England’s only lead until the final minute as Israel scored 14 of the next 15 to open up an early double-digit advantage.
Boachie-Yiadom scored back-to-back baskets before Israel’s Amit Suss took his tally to 15 with five straight points to put his side up 23-9. England responded with 3-pointers from Kareem Queeley and Kaiyem Cleary but a 6-0 close gave Israel a 29-15 lead at the end of the first.
Round netted a corner three to spark a 7-2 run in the early stages of the second before Israel responded with three straight scores from beyond the arc as they opened up a 21-point advantage.
England hit back with a 14-0 run including four points from Josh Edwards, five from Boachie-Yiadom and a three from Daniel Ogoro to close within seven points. The final four points of the half went to Israel as they went into half-time with a 49-38 cushion.
Israel made it a 14-point game before England responded with a 6-2 run including four from Round to cut the deficit to single figures. The lead floated around the 10-point mark for much of the third until two free throws from Cleary made it 52-60 heading into the fourth as England claimed the quarter 14-11.
Two more for Cleary from the line followed by a three from Round and all of a sudden, the gap was down to just three points. Ebo scored all of Israel’s points in a 9-4 burst to make it 69-62 with the lead growing to as many as eight at one stage.
Boachie-Yiadom twice made it a six-point game with consecutive scores inside before five points from Cleary made it a two-point game inside the final two minutes.
A free throw edged the lead to three points before Boachie-Yiadom took over in a pivotal spell that saw him sink two free throws before converting off an immediate steal to put England 77-76 ahead with 55 seconds to go.
Israel had their chances to break the hearts of England but Keane’s side held firm and his delight was evident upon the final buzzer confirming their success.
Two players combined for 55 points for Israel but it was the collective heart and effort of England’s side that earned them the win.
The under-16’s need one more win to secure their Division A survival as they take on Greece for 13th place tomorrow at 12:30pm (UK time).
Watch the replay (from the second quarter) below: