Great Britain’s shock run at the European Under-20 Championships for women has come to an end in the quarter-finals after they were crushed 68-37 by Russia.

However Damian Jennings side will still eventually return from Serbia buoyant after their surprise run to the last eight which has secured their A Division spot for next season.

Ella Clark and Jessica Hurd had 9 points each but – with Temi Fagbenle out injured – it was insufficient to match the Russians who proved irresistible as they surged away with an 11-0 start.

GB briefly closed the gap to 13-4. They would never again be within double figures.

Up 36-21 at half-time, Russia turned up the pressure to steadily increase the gap to as much as 34, paced by 13 points apiece from Alexandra Tarasova and Viktoria Medvedeva.

“Reaching the quarter-finals is something we are all very proud of,” said Jennings.

“Russia were technically superior and without Temi as another rotation [player] inside it was a very difficult task to defend interiorly for 40 minutes.”

GB will now meet France on Saturday on Saturday in the round-robin classification stage after the reigning champions were beaten 62-47 by Poland, who meet Russia in the semis.

“We move on as a final eight team, and see if we can work our way into the fifth place play-off game,” Jennings added.


GB Men are undone by Finns, fall to 0-2

Bradley Gains

Ryan Richards grabbed 28 points and 9 rebounds but Great Britain’s men suffered a 72-68 defeat to Finland in their European Championships in Sarajevo.

It condemned GB to fall to 0-2 in a major blow to their ambitions of finishing in the top two in the group and reaching the latter stages.

Alex Marcotullio and Ali Mackay each finished with ten points, the latter adding eight rebounds but 31 points for Antto Nikkarinen and 25 for Villematti Kopio proved key as the Finns collected the win.

Head coach Tim Lewis remained positive after the game that his side can dig themselves out of this hole.

“It was a much improved team performance, and despite the loss, I think we bounced back after yesterday’s game,” he said.

Richards haul could not save GB (Dan Wooller)

“I salute Ryan’s performance, not just for his points, but he listened to what we said after Thursday’s game. We’re still in with a chance of going through to the quarter-finals.”

The game was fairly even early on until a three pointer from Ali Mackay helped GB into an 11-6 lead. However, Finland responded in brilliant fashion ending the quarter with 11 unanswered points, to establish a 17-11 advantage after ten minutes.

19-year-old Kopio was instrumental during the run scoring all of his seven points during the run to hand the initiative to the Finns. Ryan Richards stopped the rot for GB when play resumed for the second quarter with a timely three point play.

Marcotullio hauled his side within a point of their opponents after netting consecutive triples. And they then took the lead on a Alasdair Fraser basket forcing Finland into a time-out.

Richards ensured GB did not let up after the time-out adding six points in a further 8-2 run to lead 30-23. Another twist saw the Finns respond with the next seven points predominantly from the free throw line, forcing coach Lewis into a time-out of his own with the teams tied.

And the transition was complete as Nikkarinen and Markus Molenius put the Finns up by four. Richards took his first half tally to 13 points to level the game only for Nikkarinen to move to 17 with back to back baskets, as Finland held on to a slender 38-36 advantage at half time.

Things looked promising for GB when they moved seven clear before a fightback from Finland saw the game’s momentum shift back into their favour.

GB saw their shooting percentage slump from 50% to an average 38.7 % although they had converted 9 out of 12 attempts from the foul line. Richards only managed two points in the second half against Portugal and the 20 year old equalled that feat with the first points when play resumed.

A three pointer from Lee Reilly and a three point play from Mackay put GB back in front. The lead changed hands on a few occasions but GB maintained their advantage with an 8-3 burst as Richards continued to lead from the front. Kopio scored five points in quick succession as Finland surged ahead.

However, they were making things hard for themselves with one player fouled out and two others on thin ice with each on four fouls. Marcotullio netted a three pointer late in the quarter to tie the game at 56-56 setting up a tense final quarter.

Finland gained the upper hand early on with a mini 6-0 run before Richards broke the GB drought after over three minutes without a point scored. Devon van Oostrum and Nikkarinen traded three points as the four point differential remained. Mackay reached double figures after his basket made it a one point game.

The Finns had missed all six free throw attempts in a nervy final quarter before Nikkarinen converted to double their lead. Richards made two from the line to level only for an instant response from Nikkarinen making a lay-up at the other end with 29 seconds left. Finland made the mistake of sending Richards to the line once again and the centre held his nerve to tie the game again.

Nikkarinen seemed to have broken the British hearts with another basket with only 11 seconds remaining. Any feint hope of victory was dashed when Kopio stole the ball from van Oostrum and completed a routine lay-up to end the game.

GB finished with a disappointing shooting percentage of 31.7% although an improved performance at the foul line saw 22 out of 29 attempts converted.

“We put ourselves in a position to win the game but it just didn’t go our way,” said Lewis.

“I thought it was an improved performance- the defensive coverage was great and we defended the three point line well. Ryan Richards bounced back well and had a great game but I though it was a great team effort today. We ran our stuff well and rebounded well.

“Of course we can still qualify if we win our three games and a few results go our way. We have to improve on our performance and I think we have a great shot of qualifying.”

However Britain face an uphill task to progress in the competition and are expected to record a first victory on Saturday when they take on a Luxembourg side who have been comfortably beaten in their opening two games.

European Under 20 Championship, Group C. Great Britain 68 Finland 72, Czech Republic 77 Portugal 55, Norway 82 Luxembourg 49. SATURDAY. Great Britain v Luxembourg (5.30)


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