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Gibraltar Women's Under 16 misfiring under basket as they faced defeat against Moldova

Gibraltar Women's U16 66-29 Moldova Women's U16
FIBA Eurobasket Division C

Gibraltar entered this Tuesday’s first match in the Eurobasket U16 women’s Division C with added confidence compared to previous years. Having played in the Spanish regional league during the past season, the young team, many of whom were still categorized as Under 14s, had gelled as a unit. Monica Brown, head coach of the GABBA U16s, described them in an interview with Gibraltar Today as “a family.”

With the players having dedicated the past season to developing as a unit and creating a more cohesive team than in previous years, age differences and inexperience were still concerns. However, the young players exhibited a new determination. There were no unrealistic dreams, with players acknowledging that in previous competitions, they had lost all five matches. However, having competed closely and provided a challenge even in defeat last year, the team believed they could perform better, especially since they were playing at home.

The three matches played ahead of their own had already shown a high level of physicality and competitiveness on the courts, although the efficiency under the basket was not as pronounced as in previous years. Gibraltar faced sides with a larger pool of players to select from. However, GABBA’s decision to put their national squads at the youth level through the Spanish regional leagues meant that teams came into the competition with more matches under their belts as a unit, providing an advantage other sides did not have.

Gibraltar faced Moldova in their first match at the Tercentenary Sports Hall. A buzz in the air from the large crowd created an exciting and energetic atmosphere in support of the players.

With hands on their chests, the Gibraltar U16s stood proudly in front of a half-filled Tercentenary Sports Hall as they sang the Gibraltar national anthem. The last match of day one brought Gibraltar to face Moldova, with the hosts hoping to gain some early points against a team of similar status. In their group, Malta had already faced a mighty Albania, with the latter securing a comfortable win.

A very focused Gibraltar won the tipoff and started their first offensive. However, they saw Moldova win the first rebound and counter to score early, securing a further three points on their next attack. The early setback was a quick reminder that there was no room for errors in international basketball, even at this level.

Although mounting some good pressure, Gibraltar’s first points took some time to come, with Moldova held to those early five points. After four minutes, Gibraltar remained scoreless as Moldova missed two free shots, but a quick counter by Moldova added two more points, making it 0-7. Gibraltar missed two free shots at the halfway mark of the first quarter. Frustrations in not scoring were already setting in among the Gibraltar players, with Moldova having the better scoreline despite less offensive play. With five minutes left, the score was 0-8. Moments later, a bounce from the ring gave Moldova a quick break, setting them up for 0-10. Gibraltar finally responded with two points and a missed free shot, but Moldova quickly responded in kind, making it 2-12. With the crowd behind them, Gibraltar searched for more points, while their opponents gained confidence, exposing vulnerabilities in defense. Gibraltar scored their second set of points to a roaring crowd but still trailed 4-16 with just a minute left in the first quarter. Moldova made it 4-20 with just seconds to go.

Gibraltar’s next points arrived after conceding three baskets, coming from free shots. They added further points, while Moldova remained momentarily stuck at 26. It took Moldova until the final two minutes of the quarter to add to their score, leading 9-29 with a minute left before halftime. A very low-scoring second quarter, with neither team showing much efficiency under the basket, saw Moldova lead 34-9 at halftime, with just fourteen points scored between the two sides.

The halftime warm-up saw Gibraltar players focusing on shooting, which paid off as they scored six early points against Moldova’s five in the third quarter, taking the score to 39-15. Moldova added their next points with six minutes left in the quarter. Some improvements under the basket saw Gibraltar gathering more points, reaching 19 with three minutes left, one more point than they had scored in the previous two quarters. A three-point basket brought a roaring crowd, contrasting the second quarter when they cheered at every miss by the opponents as Gibraltar failed to hit the target. As the third quarter ended, Gibraltar reduced the margin to 49-21, with the score remaining unchanged until the final quarter.

Moldova, who had not been very effective under the basket, made up for it in the final quarters, advancing towards the sixty-point mark. Gibraltar still searched to pass the 25-point mark with six minutes left to play. As Moldova hit sixty with four minutes left, Gibraltar reached 26 points. Moldova finished with a 66-29 victory, with Gibraltar’s expectations before the match not matching the result. Gibraltar still faced issues, particularly in scoring, that had troubled them in the past.

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