GB’s Men’s and Women’s sides saw qualification for September’s FIBA 3×3 Europe Cup slip away in heart-breaking fashion, but both teams can be proud of a weekend full of great performances that has seen them push some of the best teams on the planet all the way.
Poland were the conquerors of both the Men’s and Women’s side as the former lost to an unbelievable two-pointer at the death in the semi-finals, whereas the latter were also a couple of points short as they lost out at the quarter-final stage in Constanta on Sunday.
Poland rank 11th and fourth worldwide in the Men’s and Women’s game respectively, so for GB to push them to the brink of elimination from both competitions is no mean feat.
The Women’s team were in action first today as they took on Poland in the first game of the day. Ranked fourth in the world in 3×3 basketball, the Polish outfit were the top seeds in the Women’s competition, but GB took the fight to them right from the outset.
Building an early lead behind the typically stern defensive work of Stef Collins’ side, GB were also aided by slightly better weather on day two of action in Constanta, allowing the team more fortune from beyond the perimeter, which Chantelle Handy and Hannah Jump duly took advantage of.
Shanice Beckford-Norton was her usual electric self and Cheridene Green continued her strong offensive showing from day one to be a real problem inside for Poland, but the top seeds rode the storm and saw out a slender two-point win to knock GB out of the competition.
The Men’s team had to wait some time for their quarter-final fixture, as weather conditions on the shore of the Black Sea deteriorated, taking the action indoors and delaying the check ball for GB’s game against Denmark, but it was a performance well worth the wait as Julius Joseph’s side routed the Danes in a comprehensive victory.
Andre Arissol and Kane Harvey set the tone early in this fixture with their energy and execution on both ends of the floor, whilst the typically dependable contributions from Jamell Anderson and Orlan Jackman were also key in securing a comfortable and deserved victory.
Poland awaited then in the semi-finals and GB looked to have carried the momentum from their fantastic quarter-final win into this fixture, with a fast start and a swagger around the team’s play propelling them ahead before the opposition battled back to close the gap approaching the closing stages of the game.
Locked at 19-19 with the clock winding down into the final seconds, Poland launched a speculative effort from deep beyond the perimeter that found its way through the net to notch 21 points and secure victory; a cruel blow to Joseph’s side who had battled so valiantly to get to that point.
GB Men’s Head Coach Julius Joseph said:
“The guys continued to fight, showed a tremendous amount of heart and worked really, really hard. This is a group that get along really well together, they’re defensive-minded and have caused a lot of teams problems, so we’ve got a lot of positives to look ahead with.
“We know there are things to work on, but this has given us vital experience which is what we came here for. I’m disappointed for the guys because they’ve worked so hard, but I’m proud of them and we move on to the next one and continue to get better and improve. We’ve had one training camp and narrowly missed out on beating the top seed in the final game. We’ve had some great wins against Spain, Turkey and Denmark, so we can be very proud and look ahead to what is to come.”
GB Women’s Head Coach Stef Collins said:
“I think we did well to take the things we needed to work on from Day One into today and implement those concepts against a really good team. The girls are heading in the right direction. It is always disappointing to lose, but we’ve learned a lot about ourselves in this experience and spirits are still high.
“The girls understand that this is a journey and there’s a lot of good things to take away from the way we’ve performed today, because we were against the number-one seed. We went up early, hit some big shots and made some big stops, but just came up short, so there is plenty to take away from this for us and we’re looking forward.”