- National Teams
Great Britain Under-20’s were defeated 51-48 by Sweden after going down to a 3/4 court buzzer-beater having fought back from as many as 14 points down, in Portugal.
Jules Dang Akodo was the top scorer once again after finishing with 14 points and looked to have secured overtime with clutch free throws down the stretch. Meanwhile, Josh Steel added 11 points including a flurry of points that hauled GB back into contention late in the third.
“We had a difficult first half,” admitted Head Coach Andreas Kapoulas. “Sweden’s defensive intensity was good and we did not move the ball very well.
“The second half was very different – we changed the rhythm of the game with our defense and it was a real team effort that got us back in the game with all players contributing on both ends of the court. We tied the game with three seconds left but then they made a buzzer beater 3/4 shot to win.
“Irrespective of the result, it has been a very good test for us and we now move forward ready for our game this afternoon vs Portugal.”
— Coach Vear (@CoachVear) July 3, 2016
A slow start saw just three points combined scored in the first five minutes of the game. Dang Akodo levelled at 4-4 with the game’s first 3-pointer, but Sweden went on a 9-2 run to end the quarter 13-6 ahead.
The deficit grew into double figures early in the second with GB shooting 3-of-19 from the field before Pharroh Gordon netted six points in quick succession to force Sweden into a time-out only to miss out on a four-point play moments later.
However, Sweden – who will compete in Division A this summmer – responded with 11 unanswered points and went into the half-time interval with a commanding 29-17 advantage with GB held scoreless for over five minutes in the period before Dang Akodo’s late ‘and-1′.
GB were 14 points behind in the early stages of the third, but went on a 13-0 run to close to within a single point with Kyle Carey and Steel both netting from downtown in a positive five-minute spell.
The gap remained at one point – 38-37 – heading into the fourth – before the momentum swung back in favour of Sweden as they opened with an 8-2 start to the final quarter.
Kapoulas’ side refused to give in and managed to put together seven straight points to tie the game at 46 with just under a minute remaining. Sweden edged ahead, but missed two free throws to give GB a chance and Dang Akodo held his nerve at the other end going 2-of-2 from the line to make it 48-48 with four seconds remaining.
There was to be one final twist as Sweden’s Sheriff Drammeh threw up a successful 3/4 court heave to snatch victory and cause heartbreak for the GB bench.
GB have little time to reflect on the loss and finish the preparation tournament against the hosts, Portugal, later today (6pm).