Wednesday, 14 July 2010

European Under-20. Great Britain 79 Denmark 65

Great Britain beat Denmark 79-65 in their opening tie at the European Under-20 Championships in Macedonia. In the other group game, Austria beat Belgium 88-79.

Tim Lewis' team had already defeated the Danes 75-49 on their own court in the four-team warm-up tournament, and a strong third period set Britain on the way to a repeat victory.

Forward Ovie Soko led the way for Britain with 24 points, five steals and four rebounds, while Will Neighbour finished with 21 points, five boards and two blocks, with Alex Marcotullio adding eights points and Andrew Lawrence seven.

Jonas Bergstedt top scored for Denmark with16 points, with Mathias Seilund the only other Dane in double figures on 13.

Turnovers proved to be the key in the game, with Britain committing only 14 to Denmark's 26, and Lewis' team stole the ball 16 times to the Danes' four.

Coach Lewis was pleased with the victory; "I'm always happy with a win, it was a bit scrappy but we pulled together well, and it was a decent team effort" he said.

"It wasn't pretty, but the gym was really hot, and we just needed to get a win in our first game. We came out well in the third period, and although we dropped off a bit in the fourth, the players deserve credit for picking up again and sticking at it."

Lewis was reluctant to single out individuals, but he knows where Britain need to improve: "It was a collective effort, though Will [Neighbour] did a good job defensively, where we lacked a little on occasions."

The Danes scored the first five points of the game before a single Lawrence free-throw put GB on the scoreboard with 7:20 on the clock, and Britain took their first lead of the game with 4:19 of the first period remaining when Soko hit a pair from the charity stripe.

The game remained tight, but it was GB who took a 16-15 lead into the first break when Nigel van Oostrum converted a lay-up with 38 seconds remaining.

A good start to the second period saw Soko put GB 24-19 ahead after just over three minutes of play, but Denmark remained in touch with Thomas Laerke giving them a 27-26 lead at the midway stage of the quarter.

Neither side could pull away until a pair of Soko free-throws launched a 10-3 run to close out the half, and an Ali MacKay lay-up on the buzzer sent GB into the locker room with a 39-33 lead.

Soko opened the second half scoring from the foul line, and he continued to be key for Britain as he scored five points in an 11-2 run which saw his side open a 50-35 lead with 5:14 on the clock.

A Lawrence three-pointer saw that lead grow to 17 going into the final two minutes of the period, and with Neighbour and Van Oostrum also getting on the scoresheet, GB went into the final stanza leading 61-44.

Jakob Wang cut that lead to 15 with the first score of the fourth period, but Neighbour replied immediately replied with a lay-up, and although Denmark chipped away at the lead, Britain were still 66-54 ahead with five minutes remaining.

Four points from Will Neighbour in a 6-0 run put GB 74-56 ahead going into the final minutes to effectively wrap things up and give Britain a wining start.

RESULTS
European Under-20 Championships, Group C (Makarska). Great Britain 79 Denmark 65, Austria 88 Belgium 79

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