Great Britain’s women finished in eighth place when the European Under-20 Championships came to a close in Albena on Sunday, picking up a closing 65-61 victory over Portugal.
But Matt Johnson’s side almost squandered a massive early lead before holding on to end on a 2-6 record and finish above Romania.
Shequila Joseph and Harriet Ottewill-Soulsby both had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and GB raced into 19-1 lead in the first quarter.
But having trailed 35-13 at half-time, the Portuguese surged back with a 17-2 run which eventually took then 51-50 in front with four minutes left.
And it needed a late 13-5 burst to see GB clear.
Belgium won the tournament with a perfect 8-0 record while, in the A Division, Spain won the women’s European Under-20 Women’s Championship, beating Italy 59-53 in the final.
However it made it two wins in a row after the British finally broke their duck on Saturday, edging out Romania 69-67.
Shequila Joseph was GB”s heroine in their penultimate game, hitting a jump in the final second to secure victory.
Israel ditch GB
Israel condemned Great Britain’s women to a sixth successive loss at the European Under-20 Championship on Friday after Matt Johnson’s side suffered a fourth quarter collapse to miss out 49-43.
GB were 39-31 in front with eight minutes left but were out-scored 18-4 in the closing stages.
And although Israel trailed 43-40 with 86 seconds left, they delivered a 9-0 burst with their rivals able to get only one more shot attempt.
Shequila Joseph had nine points for Britain, who face Romania in their penultimate game on Saturday.
Belgium too strong for GB
Unbeaten Belgium crushed Great Britain 79-42 on Tuesday at the European Under-20 Championships to leave Matt Johnson’s side winless, and at the foot of the standings, in Albena.
The group leaders pulled away with a 17-0 run that began in the opening quarter and never looked troubled again as they led 43-20 at half-time.
And the Belgians steadily increased their margin through the second half, going as much as 77-36 clear with three minutes left as the British fell to a fifth successive reverse.
GB, paced by 12 points and seven rebounds from Shequila Joseph, face Israel on Friday.
“We have now finished the second part of our league programme and with only three games remaining we are determined to continue the improvements we have seen in each game,” said Johnson.
“It has been a tough road to this point and has tested some of the strongest of characters but it is also a road that we need to go down together.
Latvian loss dooms GB
Great Britain’s women will spend at least a second season in the B Division of the European Under-20 Championships after a 67-51 defeat to Latvia on Monday.
It left Matt Johnson’s side with an 0-4 record, and with the top three promotion spots out of reach at the half-way point in their campaign in Bulgaria.
Rosie Hynes had a team-high nine points, including a three-pointer on the final play, but GB were well beaten by the previously winless Latvians.
After Britain secured an early 4-0 lead, the sides traded the upper hand until midway through the second quarter.
But a 15-0 burst from Latvia eventually propelled them as much as 64-40 clear before a late burst eased the pain.
Johnson said: “The life of any elite athlete is driven firstly by the mind and the choices made when things don’t take the easiest routes. We are incredibly proud of this group of players. We will practice each day and compete in every game to improve and get our first victory of the competition.”
Elsewhere, Portugal edged out Macedonia 55-53 to stay unbeaten.
The British face Belgium, the other 100% side, on Tuesday.
GB stuck at Czech out
Great Britain face a must-win clash with fellow strugglers Latvia on Monday to boost their promotion hopes at the European Under-20 Women’s Championships in Albena.
Matt Johnson’s side fell to 0-3 following Saturday’s 95-50 hammering by the Czech Republic.
And they were never in contention after being out-scored 29-4 in a torrid early spell as the Czech surged 49-24 clear by half-time before pulling even further away.
Britain were paced by 13 points from Scottish forward Claire Paxton.
With only the top three of the nine teams moving up into Division A, a loss to the Latvians would leave GB on the brink of elimination.
Hosts Bulgaria gave their home crowd reason to cheer at the European Under-20 Championships, as they bounced back from their first day defeat with a convincing 86-67 over winless Great Britain.
The Bulgarians laid the foundation to their triumph early in the game, taking a 19-point lead at half-time behind a smooth-running offence.
Making their shots with high accuracy, including 8-of-16 shooting from three-point range, the home side never looked back for the rest of the game.
16-year-old Borislava Hristova (21 points), Iva Kostova (20 points) and Iva Georgieva (18 points) led the charge for the winners, combining for 59 points, whilst Harriet Ottewill-Soulsby was Great Britain’s most effective player with 12 points and 13 boards.
Matt Johnson’s side now face a critical tie with the Czechs on Saturday evening.
Elsewhere, Romania were edged out 67-64 by Portugal, Belgium beat the Czechs 73-62 and Israel crushed Macedonia 66-48.
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