Gibraltar defeated by San Marino 61-47
Gibraltar started their FIBA Small States Championship campaign against San Marino this Tuesday.
Gibraltar’s last encounter with San Marino had ended in defeat, highlighting how this was not an encounter to take lightly for Gibraltar. It was to prove a tightly contested match from the start.
The Gibraltar team notably included somewhat of a strange phenomenon with veteran Sam Buxton these past weeks grabbing the news in basketball on other issues.
Not only had he been one of the assistances in Gibraltar national squad matches against Wales, he was also the main sponsor/organiser of the Damex Pro League which is due to take place in Gibraltar later in July.
Only this week Mr Buxton was also announced as the new president of the Algeciras basketball club where he had played for several seasons.
His presence on the court for Gibraltar was not one to be surprised with. His experience as a veteran has seen him as invaluable player to for a team with a prominent youth mix.
Another notable fact was the reduction in the number of foreign players that Gibraltar travelled with. With only Garcia Tejon within its ranks the rest were home grown players many of whom have risen through the ranks and no taking over roles from some of the more veteran players who have been seen in the past. FIBA rules allow for non-nationals to play in small state teams as long as they meet the necessary requirements.
Gibraltar’s first offensive play came through youngster Rodriguez who confidently took a chance to go forward and try for the basketball. Ending with free shots and Gibraltar’s first points.
San Marino responded with three points and then collecting a defensive rebound set out to add two more points to their tally to quickly go 5-1 ahead.
A well timed delivery by Yome set up Garcia for Gibraltar’s next two points as they responded with a quick break. San Marino nevertheless matched them and added a further two to increase their lead to 9-3 before Gibraltar responded.
Gibraltar found themselves in a similar situation as their matches with Wales when for a period of time they were unable to score and losing their battle in the rebound. Although keeping their momentum forward. San Marino was slow in capitalising on this.
With three minutes left on the clock for the first quarter El Yeffeti had a chance to narrow the gap to a point but did not convert his free shot with the score at 12-10 for San Marino.
Buxton was to miss a lay-up moments later which would have equalised the match as Gibraltar’s quick breaks caught San Marino out.
It was San Marino however who added to their score before Gibraltar added a point from a free shot.
The first quarter was to finish 18-11 in favour of San Marino.
Gibraltar started the second quarter getting better results in the offensive rebounds but were unable to capitalise.
The first three minutes of the quarter saw no additional points added to the scoreboard by either side. Gibraltar scored the first point from a free shot. Garcia Tejon added a further two to his tally as Gibraltar closed the gap keeping their opponents without being able to score for the first five minutes of the quarter.
El Yeffeti was to limp off with five minutes of the quarter left raising some concern early on.
Rodriguez cut the deficit to just two points with four minutes of the quarter left before San Marino finally added their first two points of the quarter.
Converting his free shots again Rodriguez closed the gap to two points again at 20-18. San Marino responded by taking the gap to four points as Gibraltar was penalised in defence.
The second quarter was to finish San Marino 24-18 Gibraltar as San Marino capitalised on Gibraltar’s mistakes to convert chances.
San Marino had won a total of 29 rebounds against Gibraltar’s 18 during the first half of the match. With Gibraltar also lagging in turnovers, five against San Marino’s eleven.
After two minutes of the third quarter it was San Marino who added the first two points to the scoreboard before Gibraltar responded with one point of their own. The gap now increased to seven points, then nine within seconds.
El Yeffeti made his return to the court after some rest and treatment as the fouls accumulated on both camps. San Marino stretching their lead to 33-22 with five minutes of the third quarter to play.
With just a 16% success rate in converting two point attempts against San Marino’s 39% conversion rate Gibraltar seemed to be losing ground as San Marino went 35-24 ahead and looking confident on the breaks.
Forty-three year old Raschi out pacing Gibraltar defence to score their next two points.
San Marino maintained their momentum to go fifteen points ahead. They were also ahead in the stats with a better turnover rate, twice as many rebounds won and twice as many assists as Gibraltar with just two minutes of the third quarter left to play.
The match was, however, proving to be a low scoring affair in which San Marino led through Gibraltar’s own effectiveness under the hoop.
With San Marino growing in confidence and converting their three point attempts the third quarter was to finish 45-29. Garcia Tejon producing an extraordinary three points on the final buzzer for Gibraltar.
Four quick points from Gibraltar at the start of the final quarter cut the deficit and provided a confidence boost early on.
Bidding their time and playing around the perimeter with quick passes San Marino created their chance to grab two points. However, Gibraltar responded with their own.
At 47-37 it was San Marino who reacted with greater determination and widened the gap to a 51-37 with five minutes left on the clock.
With the San Marino gaining ground and confidence Gibraltar were dealt a blow with four minutes left on the clock. Garcia Tejon receiving a cut over his eye which needed treatment.
Gibraltar were, nevertheless, determined to try and close the fourteen point gap as they entered the final three minutes. Bringing it down to nine points they entered a phase of high pressure tactics giving little space through which to play through for their opponents.
This yielded some success as they stalled San Marino but found themselves facing stern defending as they went on the offensive.
A return of Garcia Tejon and Buxton brought some additional weight and height onto the court as Gibraltar entered the final minute still eight points behind at 54-46.
San Marino found their rhythm in the final minute adding four points to their tally and leaving Gibraltar having to find 12 points in the final thirty seconds. Their one point gain quickly cancelled out through a free shot.
San Marino added a further two getting their score over the sixth point mark.
The match ending 61-47 for San Marino.
#7 Jamie MCGRAIL Guard
#8 Nicholas GRACIA Point Guard
#10 Andrew YEATS Guard
#11 Mohamed EL YETTEFTI Center
#12 Thomas YOME Guard
#14 Ian YEATS Forward
#15 Christopher Graham NOON Center
#16 Alejandro GARCIA TEJON Center
#22 John CASSAGLIA Guard
#23 Michael RODRIGUEZ Guard
#33 Sam BUXTON Power Forward
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