- National Teams
England Under-18’s began their warm-up series in the Netherlands last night with a 61-59 victory at the buzzer.
RJ Eytle-Rock – Hoopsfix All-Star Classic U19 MVP – was the hero for England after scoring seven points in the final three minutes as well as the game-winner after selling his defender with the pump-fake and finishing with the floater.
The Barking Abbey/Kent Crusaders guard finished with nine points with Nelson Boachie-Yiadom and Brian Amabilino also adding nine points apiece as 12 of the 14 players got onto the scoresheet with minutes spread across the roster.
“[This] was our first opportunity to see [our current] squad play competitively at international standard,” said Head Coach Steve Bucknall.
“It was a good test for us and overall we were pleased with the effort and desire on defence. We expect to now see improvements in other phases of the game as we move forward.”
Luke Mitchell had opened the scoring for England from beyond the arc and when Amabilino followed suit later in the period, he sparked a 9-2 close with five quick-fire points to hand his side a 17-9 advantage after 10 minutes.
The lead grew to 14 points in the second as England held their opponents scoreless for a six-minute stretch across quarters. The home side rallied with an 8-0 burst to close the gap to six points and would further reduce the deficit by half-time with England leading 32-27 at the interval.
The Netherlands took the lead with a 7-1 start to the second half and led by as many as five points, at 42-37, during the period. A triple from Zion Tordoff began a 7-0 response from England, but they would then concede the final six points to trail 48-44 heading into the fourth.
The two teams traded runs at the start of the final quarter before England endured a scoring drought as they faced a five-point deficit with less than three minutes remaining.
Eytle-Rock stepped up with five points in a timely 7-2 run to level the game at 57-57 inside the final minute. Carl Wheatle answered a Netherlands score with two of his own and the game would hang in the balance with two seconds remaining before Eytle-Rock delivered the knockout blow for the win.
England U18s return to action for the second game of the 3-game series tonight (Thursday) at 6pm before closing out the series on Friday morning.