England’s Under 15 Boys couldn’t pick up a win on Day 1 of the Lions Cup 2019, but they did gain a tremendous amount from the experience of playing two of the competition’s top sides. Coupled in Pool A with hosts Saint Charles Basketball, as well as Poland and club side KSB Belgrade, England were always going to be presented with a variety of styles to play against in the tournament’s opening contests.
The first game of the day saw England take on a strong opponent in KSB Belgrade from Serbia, but Coach Bourne’s side played hard to give a good account of themselves. A 30-14 opening quarter pushed KSB into an early lead, but credit to England as they didn’t let the opening frame throw them off. Splitting the 2nd 16-16 left the score poised at 46-30 heading into the break, but more importantly demonstrated that England could match the Serbians given the opportunity.
The 3rd quarter saw Belgrade increase their defensive intensity after the restart, forcing turnovers and enjoying some fast break points as a result. A 31-13 frame took the contest out of England’s reach, but once again the young side showed their mettle to bounce back. Holding KSB to just four points over the game’s final 10 minutes was a great effort, producing a 56-81 final score.
Impressively, all 12 England players scored, with a number of standout performances. Louie Tucker enjoyed a team high 15 points to go with 4 rebounds, whilst Josh Kubacki produced a well-rounded performance to score 13 points, adding six boards, an assist and an impressive five steals. Dara Adeyemi and Zak Moore both controlled the glass with six rebounds apiece, and captain Tyrese Lacey led the way with a team high four assists.
L I O N S C U P 🏆🇫🇷— Basketball England (@bballengland) April 20, 2019
There's a reason we came to the "Lion's Den" in Paris to play some of Europe's top teams. A fantastic experience for our young players, and something they can build on going forward.
Great effort from Coach Bourne's side!#TogetherWeAreBasketbALL pic.twitter.com/uEDAGyWE7T
The afternoon session was a tough outing for England as the Poland national team proved too much to handle, giving a final score of 37-71. The Poles raced out to a 6-21 1st quarter lead as England struggled to find any space or rhythm on offence. That problem continued into the 2nd as points off England’s turnovers began to mount, leading to a 14-41 deficit by the half.
There were brighter sections of play in the 2nd half as Coach Bourne’s team began to find their feet a little, but the result was already sealed by that stage. Still, England continued to battle throughout the game’s final 20 minutes, embracing the opportunity to develop and improve regardless of the score board against another strong side. Finlay Gillies top scored with eight points, Efe Ukegheson and Latrell Davis both had six. Dara Adeyemi was once again the pick of the England players on the boards with nine rebounds, and Tyrese Lacey enjoyed four steals.
“We just keep emphasising the point that it’s not all about the scores,” said U15 Head Coach Chris Bourne when discussing the day’s play. “It’s about whether or not we feel like we’re achieving the things we set out to achieve here. We were much happier with our 2nd half performance against Poland, and that’s the benchmark now. We’ll keep moving forward and look for two more good performances tomorrow.”
The schedule for Sunday involves the third and final game of Pool A against Saint Charles at midday, and following that the tournament will move onto the classification stages later in the afternoon. As the schedule for those games relies on final pool standings, England’s opponents for tomorrow afternoon isn’t yet known. However, based on results today it is likely the game will be played at 3:45pm UK time.
For updates on the game against Saint Charles, plus more on the afternoon’s classification game, head over to our Twitter and Instagram accounts. For galleries and stats from today’s games, please see the buttons below. (note, live stats did not work for today's 2nd game v Poland)