GB U18 Men finish fifth with OT victory over Netherlands -

GB U18 Men finish fifth with OT victory over Netherlands

GB U18s 2023

Great Britain Under-18 men finished fifth at the Division B European Championships after an overtime win against the Netherlands on Sunday afternoon.

A Ben Michaels three-pointers and a Tyrese Lacey steal at the other end sealed the deal on a 95-94 victory to round out the tournament.

A 65-62 defeat in the quarter-finals to Montenegro – their only loss of the campaign – meant that they miss out on promotion the Division A, despite finishing with an overall 6-1 record.

GB went down 65-62 to Montenegro in an agonisingly close game, falling just short of claiming a place in the semis.

They bounced back to beat Romania 79-67 then edged past the Dutch to seal fifth spot.

GB had claimed had claimed their quarter-final spot with a 4-0 run in Group A in Matosinhos, Portugal, capping it with an 84-73 victory over Norway.

That came after commanding victories over Iceland, North Macedonia and Austria.

Nedas Cholevinskas was a standout, leading the team in efficiency (16.3) and points per game (14.9), while Tyrese Lacey, Latrell Davis and Benjamin Michaels also stood out.

“I probably say this most years, but this was maybe the most enjoyable European Championship experience I have had to date,” Head Coach Alan Keane said.

“The lead-up did not come with its challenges. Trying to get players back for the summer who are doing well overseas as well as putting a programme together with prep camps and games against other national teams was not easy.

“The tournament itself started off well for us. The first game is always critical as the group games are very few and you never really know what you are up against or how it will go. That win gave us a lot of confidence going forward which carried over into the next three which we built upon from game to game. Finishing the group on top and unbeaten was testament to all the hard work, sacrifices and grittiness our group showed on a daily basis.

“What people who have never experienced this won’t know is the daily grind can wear the body down. However, even more significant is the mental and emotional strain and how hugely impactful it can be. From early starts, to 45 minute bus rides to practice and back again, to team meetings, individual meetings, scout reports, video scouting, then 45 minute travel to game, play the game, 45 minute travel back, review the game, recovery sessions, scout the next team and get ready to do it all again tomorrow.

“Not all players always cope with it so well. However this group was incredible with their mental robustness and resilience. A critical factor was the cohesiveness within the group and the strength of each connection, player to player and player to coaches.

“The key game that would have enabled us to play for a medal demonstrated that you certainly need a bit of luck to go your way or less luck to go the way of the opposition. Four desperation buzzer beaters Montenegro threw up, went in, one high off the backboard for three points and the others in a similar fashion.

“While frustrating as it may seem, these are things we knew we had no control over so we simply accepted it and moved on. Side note, what I have enjoyed most about this group is that they took very well to building a culture of acceptance.

“That meant we agreed and followed through (supporting each other) in accepting anything that was thrown at us and responded with a plan and intentional actions. It served us well in many difficult moments both pre and during the championships, including bouncing back from this only loss in the tournament to Montenegro for a place in the semi-final.

“We closed out the tournament in the most fun way possible with a go-ahead three from Ben Michaels in over-time. Another great experience for all, full of many learning opportunities and great memories.

“Lastly, I have to give a special mention and a world of thanks to the staff that the players and I had the honour of working with this summer. Ian MacLeod, Mike Bernard, Steve Miknis, Toby Welch, Tom Austin and media official Nathan Green.

“When you are 24/7 with people for the summer the balance of work and enjoyment may be the greatest game changer. These guys were nothing short of elite in achieving this. I am thankful and better for working alongside them all summer and will be forever grateful. Shout out to Meehra Gorasia who was at the end of the phone repeatedly when we needed her too. Thank you!”

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