England moved back to winning ways yesterday as they dominated local rivals Scotland 61-36. That victory sets up a straight forward scenario for their final game in group B against Macedonia. Win and you finish 2nd, allowing safe passage to the quarter finals. However, should Hungary beat Scotland, England can still advance in 2nd with a loss to Macedonia by 5 points or less. Both games tip at 2pm today.
The game with Scotland started in a scrappy manner, favouring England's opponents. Coach Keane tried to get as many minutes as possible from his bench throughout the contest and that meant England took a little bit of time to find their rhythm. Scotland closed the 1st with a half court heave on the buzzer that landed, reducing the lead to 6 at 20-14. In the 2nd England once again favoured players who hadn't see much court time and that hampered their efforts at the offensive end. While the attack stuttered, there were no such issues on the defensive end with Scotland stifled as they struggled to find the basket under pressure. Eventually England took the 2nd 20-7 and extended their lead to 40-21 at the half.
The 3rd was a low scoring affair as England once more struggled to execute and remain fluid on offence. The quarter did allow Reading Rockets' David Obediah to score his first points of the Championship as the entire England 12 continued to contribute with a score line of 52-30 going into the last.
(Worthing Thunder's Hosana Kitenge had 6 rebounds, 3 assists and a block vs Scotland - FIBA Europe)
With Scotland looking tired, they won't have enjoyed the sight of Jacob Round and Kareem Queeley re-entering the game. That turned out to be for good reason as the pace of the contest quickened significantly and a Queeley dunk took the lead up as high as 28. Jacob Round fouled out shortly after and Queeley headed for the bench to as Scotland continued to scrap and even kept England scoreless for the final 4 minutes of the game. Only Round didn't play at least 11 minutes in the contest as Coach Keane was afforded a valuable opportunity to watch his entire roster in live tournament play.
Richard Amaefule led all scorers with 12, adding 5 rebounds. Queeley had 11 points, 7 boards and dished a pair of assists and the duo of Arinze Emeka-Anyakwo and Hosana Kitenge both had 6 rebounds as all but 1 of the England side got in on the scoring.
Despite the lopsided score line, Coach Keane knew there was more to the performance than just the final score, "Today's game was never going to be an easy one. Every game we must treat as a final. Scotland proved to be a difficult match on the boards and imposed themselves well in that area. We grew the lead with a 12 man rotation where all players contributed throughout."
The attention in the England camp is now firmly on one thing and one thing only, summed up by Team Manager Pete Daines, "It is a simple equation. Beat Macedonia and we qualify for the quarter finals."