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Dramatic comeback sees Gibraltar U16 beat San Marino after being twenty points behind

Gibraltar U16 60-54 San Marino U16
U16 Mens Eurobasket Division C

Brushing aside the previous day’s disastrous start to their FIBA U16 Eurobasket 2024 Division C group matches, Gibraltar went on to challenge San Marino from the beginning making a dramatic comeback to win against the odds.
Playing in Tirana, the Gibraltar Under 16s stayed in close contention with San Marino, finishing the first quarter level at 12-12. Although San Marino took an early lead in the second quarter, Gibraltar U16s pulled back to level at 17-17 before San Marino pushed ahead with a seven-point lead, which was reduced to six with two minutes left until halftime.
Gaining confidence and displaying greater mobility in defense than the previous day, Gibraltar’s U16s realized they were more than capable of challenging their opponents. They came within three points before San Marino responded to make it 21-26. High pressure from San Marino at the halfway line caught Gibraltar out of possession, allowing them to regain their six-point lead at 21-28. After a timeout, San Marino successfully lifted their game, extending their lead to 10 points. Gibraltar went into the halftime break at 24-34 after winning a free throw.
San Marino was the first on the offensive, quickly going ahead 26-40. Although Gibraltar tried to get back into the game, their scoring success rate played against them, allowing San Marino to climb to a 46-26 lead with six minutes of the third quarter still to play. Gibraltar finally responded, taking the score to 29-46 as they searched for a way back into the match.
Balanced on the court and moving the ball well, it was their final delivery that failed them. A number of possession mistakes also did not help when they needed to stay focused. A couple of well-played baskets through good distribution saw Gibraltar slowly come back into the game, narrowing the score to 33-47 with three minutes left in the third quarter.
San Marino reached 50 points with a minute left in the third quarter. Gibraltar, momentarily stuck on 33 points, fended off their attackers but failed to find a path to shoot at the other end. The third quarter ended with Gibraltar scoring a couple of free throws, closing the gap to 41-52 with fifteen seconds before the short break.
The final quarter started with intensity as Gibraltar pressed harder and higher, having seen how they had closed the gap considerably. Although adding only one point in the early minutes, Gibraltar managed to stall San Marino enough to claim another two points through free throws, bringing them within eight points of a comeback.
With eight minutes left on the clock, Gibraltar U16s had a chance, being only eight points behind. The resilience of the young team, especially after the previous day's humiliating defeat, was noteworthy. As the minutes ticked away, Gibraltar battled hard with San Marino, keeping pace at 46-54 with six minutes left.
There was added excitement and energy in Gibraltar’s play as they tried to close the gap. Quick counters and stealing in defense provided free throw opportunities, reducing the score to 48-54 with five minutes left. San Marino had been effectively stalled at 54, with Gibraltar U16s closing down gaps and adding pressure to regain possession quickly.
Some counters paid off as Gibraltar earned free throws, eroding the deficit point by point until they were within five points at 49-54. Forcing mistakes through their pressure, Gibraltar U16s created a chance for a quick counter, bringing them within three points at 51-54.
The final three minutes were intense, with Gibraltar’s bench in full voice urging the players on, while San Marino tried to salvage something from what had been a large margin. Things intensified further as Gibraltar came within a point with two minutes left. For the first time since the first quarter, Gibraltar stepped up and finally completed the comeback, going a point ahead at 55-54 with two minutes remaining.
With San Marino penalized for fouls, Gibraltar had a chance to extend their lead but had to wait for open play after missing both free throws. Solid defending, keeping their tasks and closing spaces well, forced San Marino into misses, allowing Gibraltar’s defense to regain possession.
With still a minute to play, a timeout called by San Marino aimed to turn the tables back in their favor, knowing that Gibraltar had been re-energized by their dramatic comeback. With 49 seconds left, Gibraltar added to their tally and denied San Marino from scoring further. Gibraltar protected a 57-54 lead in the final thirty seconds, adding an additional point through another free throw, making it a four-point difference that San Marino had to overcome.
Gibraltar made it 59 through another free shot. With eight seconds on the clock adding that additional point. Second later San Marino conceded another foul but weren’t able to finish with a point. Gibraltar were to finish with a 60-54 victory.
Gibraltar players who were about to celebrate were immediately called by their coaches to stop the celebrations and shake hands with their opponents. The sportsmanship shown contrasting with what Gibraltar had faced the previous day themselves.

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