GB are drawn in Group A for this year’s tournament. They have a familiar foe in Serbia, who defeated them in group play last year on their way to winning the tournament, along with Germany, who finished 6th last year, and Turkey who finished 12th.
With several key members of last year’s squad having progressed to the U20 team, only four players return for Coach Keane in a young squad that contains five players born in 2002 who will be eligible to return next year.
Coach Keane started with Mate Okros, David Chive, Tosan Evbuomwan, Theo Hughes and Tomiwa Sulaiman.
After taking an early lead on a David Chive 3pt basket, Turkey put together a 15-5 run over the course of six minutes to force an early GB time out, down 17-8 after 7 minutes.
An increase in defensive intensity for the rest of quarter restricted the Turkish offense, but this wasn’t matched at the offensive end as GB could not close the lead as seven turnovers hampered the offensive effort. Turkey lead 22-12 at the end of the 1st quarter.
Turkey opened the 2nd on a 7-0 run, and the lead ballooned to 22 on the back of excellent 3pt shooting. GB could find no way past the interior defence of the Turkish bigs, and the outside shot wasn’t dropping either. The Turkish bigs also started to dominate at the offensive end, scoring inside and collecting offensive boards. GB used their second time out with 5 minutes gone in the 2nd, and the Turkish lead at 38-16.
For the remainder of the half, GB struggled to find any offensive rhythm against a hard-working and physical defensive press from Turkey, and nasty looking injuries to Mate Okros (ankle) and Sam Grant (knee) were the last thing GB needed as they struggled to stay in touch.
A half to forget with GB down 47-23, with Tomiwa Suliaman leading the GB scoring with 8pts, as the team shot 24% from the field in the half.
Turkey began the 2nd half much as they had finished the 1st, getting some easy baskets in the break as GB’s shooting woes continued. However, GB came back into the game with energy at the offensive end and players crashing the boards. Although they weren’t closing the lead, they held their own for several minutes as they contained the Turkish offensive in the half court.
The quarter finished on a familiar note though, as Turkey were able to push the ball upcourt on the back of GB turnovers and misses, which created easy scores and the lead opened to 31 at the end of the 3rd, despite GB’s best offensive quarter of the game.
The 4th quarter was a disjointed affair, neither team finding any rhythm or fluency to their game at the offensive end. GB continued to battle and bring good intensity to their game, again, particularly on the offensive boards, but Turkey’s ability to find easy baskets on the break meant they could always keep the scoreboard moving.
The final score of 102-61 felt a little unfair on GB, who worked hard and suffered some key injuries in the first half, but Turkey’s ability to disrupt GB’s offensive flow and create easy scores proved decisive.
Chris Fenney and Tomiwa Suliaman led all GB scorers with 10pts each, and 8 and 7 rebounds each, respectively.
It’s a quick turn round for GB and it doesn’t get any easier, as they face reigning champions Serbia on Sunday at 2.45pm (UK time).
The game will be live on the GB Basketball Facebook page. To visit it, click HERE.