The women of Holland who so singularly failed to deliver at the Amaechi Center the previous Saturday were determined to make amends.
They started with a full court press and GB were simple unable to cope with it. That was on the defensive side of things but offensively they were just as sweet, stroking it from everywhere. The words of their Head Coach after their first leg performance must have been ringing in their ears.
For GB coach Mark Clark this was the nightmare senario. At the end of the first Great Britain trailed by 10, 20 to 10. The sizeable crowd at this fabulous venue were making a lot of noise and loving their situation.
Jeff Jones, Georgia’s dad, who was in the house was as concerned as I was about the situation. Should GB lose by 10 each quarter that would be it! No promotion!
The second quarter proved only slightly better with the Dutch still running things. Everything they tried seemed to come off and everything GB tried seemed destined to fail on the night. At the half the situation had improved for GB as they were still down by 10 not 20 as we had feared. Every point that GB gained had to be worked for but work they did.
Turnover after turnover haunted GB and even backup point guard Georgia Jones, so solid in Manchester, was unable to move or control the ball as her head coach wanted her to.
At the break GB had 18 turnovers. Like a virus, they were spread right through the team. At the offensive end it was thank goodness for Megan Moody who had 6 points plus 8 rebounds. Rosalee Mason had 4 ‘hard worked for’ points, as did Kimberly Butler.
For the Dutch Laura Kooij had 8 points including 2 threes and 7 of their players had been to the bucket.
Holland took 26 shots in that first half to Great Britain’s 15. Fortunately they scored the same number of 2s as GB had – 8. The Brits had attempted 5 from beyond the arc and made none, Holland were 3 for 8. Andrea Congreaves had just 2 points both from the freethrow line.
Marlous Nieuween was monstrous for the Dutch with 4 points and 6 rebounds. 3 at the offensive end.
It must have been an interesting time in the GB locker room, and whatever Mark Clark said to his charges behind closed doors seemed to work and things began to improve in the second half. Points began to flow.
Congreaves now decided to take things into her own hand bagging three monster tres.
The GB fans who had made the trip were now feeling a little more comfortable. We might lose this game but we were not going to lose the tie. GB were going to be playing in Eurobasket A next season. Head Coach Mark Clark knew that the promotion place was now safe but that was not going to be enough. He now began to taste victory in this game and more importantly the women on the floor also began to taste what would have to be a most unlikely victory.
I could spend the rest of this piece going through the half play by play but let’s cut to the really interesting bit…the end. With 12.4 seconds left the score was 58 – 57 to the Dutch and they were now looking like comfortable…ish winners.
There were so many timeouts here at the end of this affair that it was like an NBA game but to be honest I was already setting myself for defeat.
GB had fought their way back but it had been a struggle. The threes by Andrea have given the score some respectability but who would Mark Clark go to for this final play. Although I was close to the GB team for the timeout, I do not know what play he called.
There is something about winners that the rest of us have no concept about. Top players play through the pain, disappointment etc. etc. We’ve heard it all before.
Georgia Jones had had a fairly unspectacular game, the full court press from the much bigger Dutch Masters had caused her a real problem, but where you or I would probably be praying for the final whistle to get out of there it is now that winners come to the fore.
As I say I do not know what Coach Clark called but what I do know is that Georgia had the ball at the top of the key with the clock running down.
Writing this 2 days later and I am still getting a tingle down the spine. She drives to the basket left side… a lay-up…it is….Good. The whistle blows…
I did not need a microphone to shout out AND 1… it was wild.
The clock stopped with 1 second left in the game. The score was now 58 – 59 GB.
All hell breaks lose… there was hugging & kissing, and Georgia is lost in a crowd of admiring team mates.
Somebody calls the time out…I say somebody because I have no idea who.
It is hard to believe that GB now stood a chance of winning this game because we were, in the first half, dead and buried.
We come back from the time-out and Georgia is on the line for the ‘and 1’…she nails it… GB now lead by 2, 58 – 60.
The Dutch call a timeout to set something up.
The ball is inbounded at the halfway line they manage to get a shot off but …it misses.
So GB win the ballgame 58 – 60 and are now to play in the top division of European Women’s Basketball.
The leading scorers for Great Britain were Andrea Congreaves with 14 points and 4 rebounds. She had not missed from the field, she was 3 for 3 from the 3-point line and her only blemish was going only 3 for 4 from the free-throw line.
I think we can forgive her that solitary miss. What a way to sign off from your international career.
Megan Moody had a sensational double double of 14 points and 10 rebounds while Rosalee Mason was the only other Brit in double figures with 10 points and 8 rebounds.
What a night… What a summer! It don’t get no better than this.
Both the Men’s and Women’s teams have gone through the summer unbeaten. Great Britain Basketball are now 12 and 0, Baby … 12 and 0.
Congratulations to Chris Finch, Mark Clark and to everyone involved in both teams from top to bottom..
Perhaps the outside world will now take Basketball seriously! The future is bright and fortunately for GB tonight the future was not orange.
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