GB U20s Suffer Second Narrow Defeat at Euros

By on July 6, 2014

Great Britain’s under-20 women gave hosts Bulgaria a real test in their latest European Championship game in Sofia, but despite a double-double from Cheridene Green, they suffered their second narrow defeat in as many days, losing 70-75.

Twenty four hours after losing a thriller to Lithuania, GB began their third game in three days with one change to the starting five. Megan Lewis replaced Melita Emanuel-Carr, with Janice Monakana, Shequila Joseph, Harriet Ottewill-Soulsby and Claire Paxton retaining their places.

When these two sides met last year, Bulgaria won by a comfortable nineteen point margin, but there were clear signs early on of how much improvement the GB players have made in the last year as they edged a tight opening quarter. Trailing 7-10, Monakana contributed five points as GB led 19-16 after 10 minutes.

GB, led by Head Coach Peter Buckle, must have been heartened by a second quarter which showed their players’ confidence in front of a vociferous home crowd in Sofia. They extended their lead to 15 points with good defence hindering Bulgaria’s scoring opportunities.

At the other end of the court, Sarah Thomson added 10 points but a late rally for the home side saw them reduce the deficit to 8 points. It would have been understandable if GB felt slightly aggrieved at only being 40-32 up at half time, with the Bulgarians shooting just 29.6% in the first half.

But after some frank discussions in the locker room, Bulgaria powered back in the third quarter and with 4:13 of the second half elapsed, they were level at 42-all. The fighting spirit GB have shown already in this championship then became further evident as they went toe-to-toe. Green, Ottewill-Soulsby and Monakana were all solid under pressure from the free-throw line as GB led 54-49 going into the final quarter.

They were quick to score early in the fourth quarter, with two Monakana free throws pushing out the lead to nine. But the home support rallied Bulgaria again with 17 year-old Borislava Hristova landing eight points to help tie the scores at 66 with less than three minutes left.

A Green layup kept the teams locked together at 68-all with 1:40 left. But Hristova landed a big 3 as the final minute approached and Iva Georgieva’s accuracy from the line ensured Bulgaria landed a tight win, 75-70. But Cheridene Green deserves great credit after finishing with 17 points and 17 rebounds. Janice Monakana scored 15 while Sarah Thomson added 12. A link to the full stats of the game can be found here.

After three games, the hosts are still unbeaten, while Great Britain can consider themselves unfortunate to have a record of one win and two losses.

Head Coach Peter Buckle told gbbasketball.com, “It was a tough game, an excellent game and we pushed the home team all the way. I felt inexperience just got in the way at the end and we couldn’t quite get over the line.”

“Cheridene Green is having an excellent tournament. She’s getting better with every game and was rock solid again.”

The team takes a well-earned break on Sunday before facing Germany on Monday morning UK time (1145 BST). Germany also have an unbeaten record, like Lithuania and Bulgaria who meet later that day. A win for GB will keep them in the hunt for a promotion place.

Box score.

About Sam Neter

Jus tryn'a let the world know the UK can hoop a little bit too! Got a story? Contact me on sam@hoopsfix.com!

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