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An undeserved defeat for Gibraltar U16s against Armenia

Although having faced defeat against Andorra the previous evening the Gibraltar U16s started brightly netting their first points without miss. However, Armenia showed that they were exactly as expected, a force to be reckoned with netting two three points from their first two shots, without a miss.
One of Gibraltar’s biggest problems on the court, especially with the senior teams has been scoring. The under 16s looked to have started to close this gap with their initial scoring record showing that they were effective under the basket. Nine points in the first minutes from six attempts at basket was already a higher rate of scoring than previously seen in international competitions for Gibraltar.
Having already beaten Moldova in their first match, the defeat against Andorra had come as a leveller for the young team. One that set the tone in the match against Armenia where, whilst confident on the court, they maintained an initial cautious approach which bode well for them as they kept their lead. Armenia levelled at 11-11 and 16-16 only to be met by a Gibraltar side immediately coming back into the game both times.
With three minutes of the first quarter left and going into a time-out Gibraltar led by five points at 22-16, and managing well in defence.
Gibraltar kept their lead and finished the first quarter 28-22.
Armenia started the second quarter on the offensive responding well to a long delay between quarters as the points were recalculated.
It was Gibraltar, however, who added to their score to make it 30-22.
Stealing well in defence three times Gibraltar extended their lead to 32-22 but could have made it more, missing two good opportunities.
Although the Gibraltar teams efficiency under the basket started to lag in the second quarter their continued strength in defence secured them extending their lead. At one point leading by twelve points.
This was reduced slightly with Gibraltar going into the halftime break leading 40-33.
Gibraltar started the third quarter on a positive note notching their first two points quickly but soon lost momentum.
It was a tight contest after Armenia grabbed their next three points. For some time neither team adding to their scores.
Armenia then were to reduce the gap to just two points after two consecutive baskets, both coming from steals in defence with six minutes of the third quarter still to play.
Gibraltar’s lead was erased a minute later as Armenia levelled at 42-42.
Armenia overturned the score to go to a 43-44 lead as Gibraltar, rattled by the five minutes in which they had lost their lead tried to regain their composure.
They levelled at 44-44 with four minutes still remaining of the quarter.
A well intercepted pass in defence provided them with a boost as they retook the lead at 46-44 but Armenia responded with a three pointer which brought them back into the lead within seconds.
With just a point between them it was a tense encounter in the final three minutes in which Gibraltar retook the lead and saw it overturned immediately before retaking it yet again as the match went to 50-49.
Armenia’s three point efficiency played in their favour as they extended the lead to two points at 50-52 with just over a minute of the quarter to play.
Three well played points saw Gibraltar’s chances boosted again with less than forty seconds left for the end of the third quarter.
The Gibraltar u16s were dealt a blow immediately after with an injury that required attendance from the medical attendants at the venue.
It did little to take away Gibraltar’s focus on the match though as they tried to protect their lead. Armenia however coming up once again with an impressive three points on the final second to take the lead at 53-55.
It was all to play for in the final quarter.
Armenia increased their lead immediately on starting the final quarter to take the score to 53-57.
This sparked Gibraltar into somewhat of a comeback as they came level at 57-57 after winning defensive rebounds.
Disciplined defending saw Gibraltar regain possession after Armenia tried to retake the lead but the loss of the ball in attack gave Armenia a second chance which they readily took.
Once again, Armenia after protecting well in defence produced another three point to open the gap to five points with six minutes of the match to play.
With very little between the two teams it was now a matter of who was more effective under the basket. Armenia added to their score to go 57-67 ahead as Gibraltar saw the game walking away from them with five minutes to play.
Luckless under the basket Gibraltar saw Armenia add two further points to their lead, then a free shot before they could respond. With three minutes on the clock left the score at 59-70 for Armenia.
There was no lack of determination by the Gibraltar u16s as they battled for every ball both in attack and defence. However, with time ticking away the eleven point deficit weighed heavier by the second and kept on piling as Armenia entered the final minute with a 59-76 lead.
Gibraltar were to finally fall 59-76 in a match in which they had dominated at first but found themselves falling behind even though they produced an impressive, determined performance which they should be proud. Gibraltar’s small pool of players producing a display which through most of the match had been in par to their opponents with greater numbers to select from.

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