Great Britain’s men lost 60-57 to Portugal in their opening game at the European Under-20 Championships in Sarajevo.
In a tight game, Tim Lewis’ side were in front late in the third quarter after coming back from 32-25 behind at half-time.
However Portugal surged and although Devon van Oostrum scored the last of his 13 points with 3 seconds left to cut the gap, it was too late as GB sustained a damaging reversal.
Britain must now pick themselves up to face Finland on Friday evening but will hope for better after a game which they had, in truth, expected to win.
San Antonio Spurs draftee Ryan Richards received a lot of attention ahead of the Championships and the 20-year-old forward began well with the first four points of the game.
Portugal soon levelled as both teams tried to settle in early with baskets traded at both ends. Marcotullio tied the game at 10-10 with a three point play opening his account only for Joao Torrie to score the first three-pointer of the match.
Richards added another two points while Marcotullio split his pair of free throws as Great Britain ended the first quarter on even terms, 14-14. Portugal pushed on at the start of the second with an 11-3 burst, containing triples from Miguel Cardoso and Carlos Ferreirinho, establishing a 27-18 advantage. GB responded well to cut the deficit to four points on the back of a 7-2 run before a second three from Ferreirinho.
Slumping at the halfway stage, Lewis sought inspiration, hoping to turn around some disappointing statistics from the first 20 minutes. GB’s shooting percentage was only at 36.4% having also struggled at the free throw line, converting 8 out of 17 attempts whilst also gifting 13 turnovers.
GB made a positive start to the second half and soon closed within two points of the Portuguese lead after a pair of free throws from Ali Mackay and a three point play from Caja Laboral guard van Oostrum. Cardoso finally ended a prolonged drought to the third from Portugal with a three pointer although Richards – who scored just 2 of his 12 points in the second half – helped keep his side within range. And then GB struck with a three pointer from van Oostrum taking the lead for the first time since the opening quarter.
The lead was short-lived as Fernandes put his side back in front. Adam Thoseby and Ali Fraser regained the initiative for GB with their first points of the game helping their side to a 42-39 advantage. Portugal produced a strong finish to the third with a triple from Ferreirinho giving them a slender 46-45 lead to take into the final quarter. GB battled valiantly and stayed with Portugal throughout a tense fourth quarter which had seen the sides level at 50-50 in the early stages.
A basket from Rafael Wildner gave Portugal a lead they would not relinquish as they held off a brave finish from GB. Trailing 57-52 with 30 seconds remaining, Lewis’ side strung together a few defensive stops and converted their chances at the free throw line to trail by two. However, Cardoso was to have the final say, nailing a free throw in the dying seconds and ending with a team high 14 points.
Elsewhere in the group, the Czech Republic thrashed Luxembourg 127-60.
Additional Reporting: Bradley Gains
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