Great Britain can finish no better than 13th place at the European Under-20 Championships in Sarajevo, despite beating Iceland 72-20 on Thursday night.

After Israel beat Finland 65-64 earlier, the narrow victory against their winless rivals still left Tim Lewis’ men third on aggregate in their group as they again paid the price for their poor start to the competition.

Adam Thorsby had 27 points, including vital scores in the final minute. Ryan Richards had 17. There was not enough help elsewhere and a torrid 8/35 effort from three-point range again raised questions.

It was disappointing. And it was not good enough from a side which has shown the talent to do much more.

Iceland were dealing in three pointers early on to lead 9-4 after two from Haukur Palsson and another from Tomas Tomasson. Palsson extended the lead to ten points after adding seven points in quick succession including a third triple.

Richards then netted consecutive triples in a 10-4 reply from GB to close within four. Oddur Olafsson scored late on in the opening quarter to give Iceland a 23-17 advantage after ten minutes. Then GB struck, Thoseby scored ten points, including two triples, in a 13-1 start to the second taking the lead at 30-24.

Alex Marcotullio had opened his account for the night also scoring from long range during the run. Iceland reclaimed the lead on an 8-1 run only for GB to score the next six points as Richards took his tally to 17 points.

Iceland finished the scoring in the quarter again but this time found themselves trailing as GB went into the half time interval 39-36 ahead. When play resumed, Iceland cut the gap to a single point before four points from Ali Mackay helped increased the lead to seven.

Both teams traded baskets throughout the middle period of the third before Palsson and Marcotullio traded triples late on. Sigurdur Thorarinsson’s basket reduced the deficit to three points but GB were still in front heading into the final quarter, 54-51.

Iceland again made it a one point differential but Thoseby netted back to back scores from the perimeter in an 8-2 spell for GB. Iceland kept threatening a revival but were held at bay by a GB five without the rested Richards.

Lee Goldsbrough pushed the lead back up to seven with three minutes left as GB chased the nine point margin needed to send them through. However, their opponents had other ideas and Tomasson nailed a three pointer in the middle of a 7-0 burst to tie the game at 69 with 29 seconds left.

Thoseby converted a three point play with 7 seconds remaining. William Hall had earlier missed both of his free throw attempts before redeeming himself with a rejection and steal at the defensive end. Tomasson split his free throw attempts before Martin Hermannsson missed a late jump shot which would have tied the game and given GB a chance to progress.

As it is they see their win streak reach five games and will now battle it out for 13th place taking on Romania then either Iceland again or the Netherlands. Small consolation indeed.

Report: Brad Gains

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