GB U20: FINLAND 86 – 68 GB
GB remain very much in the hunt for a podium finish and promotion to Division A from this tournament, but it will not be through a place in the final as they fell 86 – 68 to the class team in the tournament, Finland, in a high scoring and entertaining semi-final.
Up against the only undefeated team in the competition, GB knew they had to manage the inside power of Awak Kuier, who was averaging 14 and 11 throughout the tournament, and the leading scorer across all teams, Lotta Vehka-aho, who was averaging 21 ppg, just ahead of Holly Winterburn on 18.5 ppg.
GB started confidently, denying Finland a shot on their first two possessions and answering with an and-one and successive three pointers to open their account and take an 11-4 lead.
Finland’s initial offensive success all came from playing through Awak Kuier, who attracted defensive attention from GB but distributed well to the open team mate.
Finland’s inside game continued to trouble GB for the rest of the quarter and they shot 50% for the frame with some nifty passing around the basket. However, GB maintained their offensive composure and held a 1pt lead after the first 10 minutes, 19-18, with Loren Christie leading all scorers with 8pts.
A cagey start to the second quarter saw the sides trade baskets as the score stayed close. This was the theme of the whole quarter as the biggest lead for either side was only 4pts, as GB finished the half up 39-35. Loren Christie and Lotta Vehka-aho lead all scorers with 15pts a piece.
Finland came out of the locker room with a blast in the second half, hitting from outside and also finding space under the basket and opened up a 53-48 lead.
This lead ballooned to 14 at the end of the quarter as Finland found their 3pt range and always made the extra pass to find the open shooter. Their offensive barrage in the quarter produced 32pts as GB struggled to stay in touch, falling behind 67-53 with 10 minutes left.
The Finns continued in the same offensive vein for the 4th quarter, which meant that an improved GB showing could not close the gap at any stage. Finland were able to see out the whole of the quarter without ever being under pressure and finished 86-68 victors.
Loren Christie continued her fine form with 22pts on 16 shots, and Holly Winterburn matched her with 15pts and five assists.
The defeat does not end GB’s interest in the tournament as they still have the prospect of a podium finish and promotion to Division A available to them. This will be decided in a 3rd-4th place play-off against close neighbours Ireland, who lost to Bulgaria in their semi-final. GB will be looking to reverse their 14pt loss in the group stages, but they have improved significantly since then and a huge game awaits on Sunday, tipping at 3.30pm