Gibraltar bow out from chance from basketball semifinals after defeat by Andorra
A tightly contested match between Andorra and Gibraltar saw the latter bow out from a chance to play in the semifinals on Saturday.
A confident start by Gibraltar against Andorra saw them initially leading with the points. However, Andorra, very similarly balanced to Gibraltar responded by keeping themselves level at as they went to 6-6 with half the first quarter played.
For both sides the match was their last opportunity to finish in the top four of the FIBA European Small States Championships. The winners would head into the semi-finals to play Armenia, although both had finished bottom of their group table.
A fast paced first quarter saw Andorra take over the lead at 8-6 with three minutes of the first quarter remaining.
Andorra gained ground going 13-6 ahead as mistakes in passing provided them with an opportunity.
After missing under the basket Gibraltar faced more problems as Andorra hit another three points to go 16-6 ahead as they entered the last minute and a half of the quarter. A time out was called. Gibraltar lucky not to concede after another mistake in the passing between Culcross and Buxton where only Mcgrail’s quick feet stopped Andorra from running free to the basket.
Gibraltar finally managed to add to their tally with four points before Andorra hit back.
The first quarter was to finish 18-10.
Andorra kept their momentum into the early part of the second quarter as they went 21-14 ahead. Buxton scoring a three pointer to set Gibraltar back moving on the scoreboard.
Yome cut the deficit to five with a run through the middle. He was then to receive in open space from Garcia Tejon to hit three points and reduce it to 21-19 before Andorra responded likewise with their own three points.
Gibraltar were able to once again reduce the deficit to just three points as they battled back stalling Andorra. With just under four minutes left they came back to put the score at just one point at 24-23 but Andorra responded immediately to go 26-23 ahead.
Gibraltar’s constant rotations were providing Gibraltar with alternatives whilst keeping their momentum.
After moments of pressure where neither team were scoring but Gibraltar held possession, Noon produced what had looked as the three points that would have levelled the score but was only given as two as he stepped over the line.
Andorra’s response was immediate with two quick points putting them three points ahead again as they entered the final minute before half time.
Andorra used this final minute to up their momentum and deliver a further two points to their score and keep Gibraltar penned back finishing the second quarter 30-25 in the lead.
Although the first minutes of the third quarter were slow scoring Gibraltar managed to cut the deficit to just two points at 31-29.
Once again Andorra did not let go of their lead and added two further points. Missed opportunities in offence for Gibraltar allowed Andorra to regain possession and further increase their lead to 36-29.
A steal by Mcgrail on the halfway line saw him earn himself free shots after Andorra were forced to hassle him away from the basket as he broke free. This provided Gibraltar with a points and a chance to cut the deficit. El Yeffeti on a second attempt after winning a rebound adding tie further points to bring the score to 36-32. A quick break from Yome after winning a defensive rebound provided McGrail chance to close the gap further to 36-34 with some determined work by Gibraltar’s youngster.
It was short lived as again Andorra added their own from free shots although this time with an immediate response from Gibraltar to keep the gap at two points with just over four minutes left for the end of third quarter.
It was a tight battle as Gibraltar kept pace and maintained themselves at finger tips from closing down the margins. Andorra going four points ahead and defending it in the final minute. Gibraltar unable to come close to securing that final basket in the third quarter which would have closed the gap to just two.
Andorra led at 42-38 at the end of the third quarter.
Yome started the final quarter running at Andorra’s defence and putting in the first basket. The whites however responding with their own and then claiming additional points through free shots to go to 47-40 ahead.
Gibraltar saw how Andorra were moving away from them as they increased their lead to ten pointe before Gibraltar were able to make a come back with two baskets of their own to reduce the deficit to six with close to seven minutes still left on the clock.
Andorra added to their points to take it to June points with six minutes left. Gibraltar knowing it was still within their grasp continued to claw away to try and keep themselves with a chance until the end.
The match continued end to end. With just over four minutes left Gibraltar’s battling brought them to within five points at 55-50.
Securing rebounds, something which they had faltered in earlier matches Gibraltar were trying to take every opportunity to claw the score back in the final minutes.
However, Andorra made it hard for Gibraltar to grab the points although slowly they cut the deficit going to four points at 57-53 with a minute and a half left on the clock.
It was a battle of wits in the final stages where mistakes or allowing space proved to be crucial.
Andorra added three points to go to 60-53.
Although pressing high Gibraltar had to watch how Andorra added more points to their tally to
Make it 62-53 as they arrived into the final seconds of the match.
With just 43 seconds left on the clock the nine point gap now looked an impossible target to meet. Gibraltar still pressed high and tried to regain possession although this only resulted in providing Andorra with further points via free shots.
Andorra was to win in the end 66-57 to go into the semi finals on Saturday.