Great Britain have gained promotion to Division A after reaching the final of the Under 20’s European Championships in Romania.
They secured their place in the top league with a hard-fought 70-61 victory over Hungary in the semi-finals and will take on either Poland or Belgium in tomorrow’s final.
Devon van Oostrum led GB’s triumphant win with a game high 22 points which takes his personal tally for the tournament to 185- the top scorer at the Championships – averaging 26.4 ppg.
Led by a new coaching set up of Douglas Leichner, James Vear and Marc Steutel heading into the tournament, GB could not have wished for a better campaign having won all seven games en route to the final. This is the 7th time, the nation have been represented at the European Under-20 Championships having first participated in 2006.
Their 2013 venture began 8 days ago when they defeated the Slovak Republic 75-62 in their first group game to make the perfect start. DVO stated his intentions for the tournament with a 29-10-5 stat-line while Raphell Thomas-Edwards added 11 points as the only other GB scorer in double figures.
A high-scoring affair with Luxembourg followed 24 hours later and GB managed to prevail 106-92 after a blistering start. Sheffield Sharks’ Nick Lewis top scored with 23 points while Thomas-Edwards hauled down 15 boards to compliment his 17 points. GB didn’t have it their own way after seeing an early 17 point advantage turn into a half-time deficit before a strong second half display secured the win.
A clash with the tournament hosts Romania provided GB with their most comfortable victory after an emphatic 99-43 success helped by five scorers in double-figures. After a 3-0 start, Coach Leichner’s men earned a well deserved day’s rest before continuing to push for top spot.
Fittingly, their toughest group stage test came against their Final opponents Poland but GB were pulled through by van Oostrum’s 37 point haul to end their opponent’s unbeaten record and continue their own. A dominant second quarter display against Hungary proved enough to inspire a 65-60 win which secured GB’s position at the top of Group A.
The Brits were rampant in their quarter-final against Holland after making light work of the Dutch opposition with a 95-57 victory paced by another 30+ performance from their leading star ‘DVO’. GB were dominant in each of the four quarters and progressed to a last four clash with Hungary to move on the verge of promotion.
As expected for a semi-final, the match was a close affair throughout but GB stepped up their defensive intensity when it mattered to keep their opponents off the scoreboard for the first seven and a half minutes of the final quarter. Hungary had forged a slender 51-49 advantage at the end of the third but GB capitalised on their baron spell to lead 63-51 before closing out the game at the free throw line.
Whatever happens in tomorrow’s final, everybody involved with the team has made GB proud. A historic promotion and now a chance to win gold and become the 2013 Division B Under-20’s European Champions.
Promotion. Division A. One more tomorrow. #GB20‘s
— Marc Steutel (@steutel10) July 20, 2013
— Coach Vear (@CoachVear) July 20, 2013