GB battle hard in U23 Nations League Day One
By Jamie Thomas
After the strong showings from GB’s Senior teams in the FIBA 3×3 Europe Cup Qualifiers over the weekend, the nation’s young talent stepped up to compete on Day One of the Under-23s League of Nations in Israel.
Krumesh Patel (Men’s Head Coach) and Kenrick Liburd (Women’s Head Coach) led the two talented young squads as they faced stellar European opposition in Tel Aviv on Monday morning.
The Women’s side kicked off GB’s representation on Day One with a tough fixture against France. Newcastle Eagles star Abby Lowe nailed a big step-back two-pointer early-on as the game was closely contested in the early stages, before an impressive France side caught fire and saw out a 22-5 victory.
GB Men made their competition debut against the Netherlands. This was a great battle that went the distance, with Barking Abbey’s Veron Eze bagging the best of the game’s top plays in the opening stages, as he powered to the basket off the screen to throw down a big dunk with three minutes played.
The Dutch would eventually run out 16-11 winners, but it was a performance full of positives for Patel’s side.
GB Women’s second outing against Israel was a real nail-biter, with both sides right in the mix to get the win until the closing moments of the game. Deadlocked at 6-6 with 90 seconds to go, the Israelis nailed two clutch free throws with a minute to play before making it 9-6 with a tough lay-up in the last 40 seconds, going on to grind out a narrow win against a spirited GB side.
It was then the Men’s turn to face Israel in their final game and, after the hosts got off to a lightning-fast start, GB battled hard to get back into the game, going on a good scoring run in the final few minutes of the fixture to close the gap, but the strong Israeli outfit saw out the win despite GB’s promising fightback.
Day Two’s action gets underway at 8am on Tuesday where France and Israel await both the Men and Women’s sides, with a place in the day’s finals up for grabs for the sides who can top their groups.
Men’s coach Krumesh Patel said:
“It was a good learning experience with the U23 men today. They did a great job competing having only had three players all day and being the youngest roster in the competition. We had some small wins, but the aim to continue building on that next two stops.”
GB Men’s Tosan Evbuomwan said:
“We’re disappointed with the outcome of both games today, but I feel like we’ve learnt a lot from our first 3×3 outing and are looking forward to improving on it as we progress through the days here. There’s two more tough games tomorrow but we’re looking forward to competing and welcoming Evan Walshe to the squad and adding some more depth.”
GB Women’s Katie Bennett said:
“It’s been a very challenging day one but we’ve got lots to learn and plenty of room to grow as a team. Coming up against a tough side like France shows how intense and physical this game can be and we’re going to rise to the challenge by playing more to our strengths and controlling the controllable on court. Bring on day two!”
GB U23 Men’s Results:
Netherlands 16-11 GB
GB 12-18 Israel
GB U23 Women’s Results:
GB 5-22 France
GB 6-9 Israel
TUESDAY 29 JUNE
8:00am: GB Women v France
9.15am: GB Men v France
9:50am: GB Women v Israel 2
11:05am: GB Men v Israel
1:30pm: Women’s Final
1.55pm: Men’s Final
WEDNESDAY 30 JUNE
8:00am: GB Women v Netherlands
8:25pm: GB Men v France
9:50am: GB Women Israel 2
10:15am: GB Men v Israel 2
1.30pm: Women’s Final
1.55pm: Men’s Final