England advanced to the quarter-finals of the 2018 Commonwealth Games after defeating Cameroon 81-54 in Townsville. With their tournament hopes on the line, England responded in the only way they know how, leading at every change to clinch a 27-point win.
While their quarter-final opponent is yet to be known, Canada looms as the most likely candidate ahead of their Pool A fixture against New Zealand later today.
With England and Cameroon each boasting a 1-1 record coming into the fixture, the winner was assured of advancing to the post-sectional games on Tuesday in Cairns, while the loser would be finished at the 2018 Games.
Given the nature of the stakes, England looked cool and calm to start the match as Cameroon gave away two unsportsmanlike fouls inside the first five minutes of tip-off. A slick move from Robert Gilchrist (five points and four rebounds) on the baseline opened England’s account before Shane Walker (nine points and five rebounds) imposed himself on the contest with five straights points.
“It’s tournament play,” coach Andreas Kapoulas said. “You’ve got to be able to bounce back. We suffered a loss but we went back to the drawing board and the guys worked really hard. I’m proud of how this team has responded to the challenge.”
With an arm wrestle unfolding, England was able to make an 11-2 run to go into the first change with a 20-15 lead. The injection of Kofi Josephs to start the second period proved a game changer, however, as the 26-year-old put on a shooting masterclass. Josephs (26 points, three rebounds and two assists) stroked back-to-back triples – bookending a sweet assist to Joseph Ikhinmwin – to maintain England’s advantage before splashing a third.
The Glasgow Rocks guard was relentless from long-range as he connected on 7/11 attempts from beyond the arc at an outrageous 64% to lead all scorers.
“I normally shoot the ball like that,” Josephs said. “So it was finally nice to do what I was brought on the England team to do. It was an important game so I’m glad that I could help. Our game plan going in was to play solid defence, stick to our principles and let the chips fall where they may.”
Boasting a 37-31 advantage at half-time, Adam Thoseby (15 points and three assists) picked up where Josephs left off as he rattled off nine points including two triples inside the first two minutes of the second half.
Not to be outshone, Josephs splashed two of his own and with the rest of the squad doing a good job of getting to the line – England would ultimately shoot an incredible 47 free throws during a physical game - the lead ballooned out to 66-45 at three-quarter-time.
With the result seemingly a formality, the fourth quarter was turned into a grind as Cameroon’s Franck Yangue, along with Walker and captain Mike Tuck fouled out of the game as the match got willing.
Jamell Anderson put the finishing touches on the result both literally and figuratively as he hit a long-range jumper to ice the result before stunning Team England Women’s guard and girlfriend Georgia Jones on the court immediately following play by asking for her hand in marriage. Jones’ yes sent the side’s celebrations to the next level on a brilliant day for Team England.