GB U20 Men lose narrowly to Finland
Great Britain's U20 Men fell to 1-1 in the European Championship second round after a 67-64
loss to Finland on Wednesday afternoon in Sofia, Bulgaria.
The loss puts both teams on 1-1 records and they now await the result of the game later this afternoon between the other two countries in their group - Croatia and Czech Republic. The pressure on GB to defeat the Czechs on Thursday is huge, regardless of what happens in Wednesday's later game, but a Croatia win would be helpful as all four teams would be on 1-1. The top two from this group will advance to the semi-final round.
Wednesday's game against Finland was tight from start to finish and most of Britain's scoring and rebounding work came courtesy of Alasdair Fraser and Devon van Oostrum. The two players combined for 41 points and 18 rebounds in the loss.
Finland maintain a slight lead for most of the first quarter but GB fought back to stay in front from midway through the second until the opening the bucket of the fourth tied the game once again. The Brits actually built their lead up to 10 points with just over two minutes left in the third, but a 10-2 Finland run to close out the quarter and brought the sides within a bucket of each other, GB leading 55-53.
That would be the last time Great Britain led in the game, however, as Finland held them to 9 points in the fourth period, but it wasn't an easy win for the Scandinavians. Their 65-59 lead heading into the final minute was halved when Connor Washington connected from outside the arc. Jesse Chuku later fouled Finland's Aleksi Akpaso, sending him to the line for two, where he was successful on the first but missed the second. Joe Hart pulled in the missed free throw and hit a jumper down at the other end to trim the Finland advantage to 66-64 and force a timeout.
Coach David Smart had no choice but to force the foul, sending Finland to the line again with 5 seconds remaining. Villematti Kopio went one of two from the charity stripe, but it was enough as a desperation pass from van Oostrum fell in the wrong hands and the game was over.
Photo courtesy FIBA Europe