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Gibraltar men's U16 dealt hefty blow in unsportsmanlike defeat at hands of Kosovo

Kosovo U16 138-22 Gibraltar U16
Men's Eurobasket U16 Division C

Gibraltar U16 men’s team suffered a blow to their confidence as Kosovo sought to build up their lead to humiliating levels with no concept of sportsmanship. The hefty 138-22 defeat for Gibraltar at the hands of Kosovo left an unsavory taste.

Placed in Group B against San Marino, Armenia, and Kosovo, the Gibraltar U16 squad faced a tough start to their campaign in the Eurobasket Division C, opening with a match against Kosovo. Kosovo quickly demonstrated their high-octane style, taking their first two points within seconds by stealing on defense.

Although Kosovo did not capitalize on their next two attempts, this allowed Gibraltar to score their first points through free shots. Gibraltar then attempted to find their footing on the court. Kosovo increased their lead to three points with their next basket, but Gibraltar, having played together longer this season, showed early signs of cohesive development before Kosovo stamped their authority emphatically.

Gibraltar added their first two points in open play, trailing 3-6. Despite some confident passing and defensive steals, Gibraltar's initial attempts did not materialize into more points. Kosovo added to their score, bringing it to 9-5, and continued to extend their lead. As the minutes ticked away, the physical superiority and greater player pool of the Kosovo team became evident. By the end of the first quarter, Adam Cassaglia’s U16s were trailing 30-10. Gibraltar, despite momentarily stalling Kosovo, could not make a significant impact due to defensive errors and struggles with ball distribution.

Kosovo dominated the start of the second quarter, exploiting early mistakes. Gibraltar thought they had added three early points to their tally, but the umpires ruled them out after a discussion, frustrating head coach Adam Cassaglia. The score remained 32-10 for much of the first half of the quarter, with Gibraltar missing several free shots but managing to add two points. Despite their dominance, Kosovo did not score as prolifically as in the first quarter.

A slower second quarter still saw Kosovo running away with the lead, with Gibraltar not adding to their tally until the latter minutes of the half. Kosovo reached their half-century in points in the last minute of the second quarter. This was a further blow to Gibraltar’s confidence after only having added sixteen points in the same period. Kosovo headed into the halftime break with an emphatic 55-18 lead. A last-second three points were again disallowed for Gibraltar, this time because the ball had just left the player’s hands when the buzzer went for halftime and was not yet on its way down into the basket.

Gibraltar did not fare any better in the third quarter, picking up a solitary point with five minutes of the quarter still left to play, while Kosovo had entered the seventies and led 74-19. Naive mistakes, such as overstepping the line on side passes, playing back into their half, and passing the ball to opponents after conceding, ensured Gibraltar was on the backfoot most of the time. The mistakes stemmed from the intense pressure Kosovo exerted throughout the first three quarters, giving little to no space to play through, even though Kosovo had an emphatic lead that was unlikely to be overtaken anytime soon.

Kosovo’s attitude contrasted with Gibraltar’s, where the latter would try to extend their apologies when committing a foul. However, these were often rejected and ignored, with extended hands brushed aside. Finishing the third quarter leading 86-20, Kosovo had nothing more to play for other than trying to reach the 100-point mark. Gibraltar faced a steep challenge, needing to keep their heads to prevent Kosovo from reaching their century in points.

Within minutes of starting the final quarter, Kosovo reached the 90-point mark and continued to add points rapidly. Height and confidence helped them dominate, winning rebounds in front of the basket and delivering 94 points. Gibraltar’s response came from two free shots. Kosovo immediately added another two points with seven minutes left to play. With six minutes left, Kosovo reached their hundred and made it 102-22 within seconds. Gibraltar now aimed to prevent their heaviest defeat in recent years.

The score continued to run away from Gibraltar’s grasp as Kosovo showed no intention of slowing down. With five minutes left to play, Kosovo had reached the 112-22 mark. Gibraltar head coach Adam Cassaglia was not happy with Kosovo’s unrelenting pressure, which saw Kosovo advance to 119-22 with three minutes left, leaving Gibraltar players with their heads down and no response. The unsportsmanlike attitude shown by Kosovo, aiming merely to humiliate Gibraltar players further with no other gain to their scoreline, saw them secure a 139-22 victory. This left an unsavory taste and won them few pleasantries and very little recognition for sportsmanship.

Gibraltar’s U16 team learned a tough lesson: even at this level of international play, there are no pleasantries in the sport.

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