U16 Men unable to record second win over Czechs
England’s U16 Men went down against Czech Republic on Friday 67-63
in the European Championship Classification Round for 13th-16th place, leaving coach Andreas Kapoulas’ team with a slim chance of staying in Division A for 2013.
Things started slow for England in Vilnius on Friday, with the Czechs jumping out to a 14-5 lead six minutes into the first period, but Sedale Hanson-Young’s triple spurred a 12-0 run and his side led 17-14 at the end of ten minutes.
The game’s top scorer, Matej Svoboda from Czech Republic, gave his team a 20-19 lead two minutes into the second period and they never trailed again; however, England were just in their shadow nearly the whole way.
By halftime England trailed by only 3 (33-30) and the Czech Republic held a 51-45 lead heading into the final ten minutes.
Marek Mares pushed that Czech lead to nine after opening the fourth with a three pointer, and their advantage hovered at that margin for about the next six minutes. That’s when England’s shooter got hot, though, as three straight triples from Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye, Joe Swindells and Jules Christian cut the Czech lead to 65-61 with just over two minutes remaining.
Christian scored again on a lay-in bringing England within two points with a minute left, but David Skranc answered with his own two and the Czechs would not be beaten again by England in this competition.
Christian led all England scorers with 15 points while Svoboda was had 19 for Czech Republic.
Coach Kapoulas was disappointed with his team's first half performance: "During all our European championship games we have been very competitive and have always battled to the end. However today is the first game that I felt that our energy levels were not high.
"Our first half performance was poor and the Czechs took advantage of that to lead by 3 at halftime. During the first half we had a very high 15 turnovers and gave away 10 offensive rebounds. This allowed the Czechs to score 28 of their 33 points in our paint.
"Its a disappointing loss but we will keep fighting. We have two games left starting with Slovenia tomorrow. We have really earned the respect of all of our opponents in the Division A competition and we will ensure that we will give everything we have tomorrow to try to secure a second victory in this competition."
A Russia win on Friday against Slovenia would officially send England down to Division B next year, but coach Kapoulas and his side can take pride in a respectable run in one of the world’s toughest U16 tournaments.
England’s next opponent is Slovenia on Saturday afternoon.