Twenty six seconds on the clock
A packed Tercentenary Sports Hall welcomed the Gibraltar Basketball men’s team for their semi Final match against Saaremaa.
The evening match saw the Sports Hall filled from very early on with security inside the hall stepped up to ensure passage areas were kept free.
The match was to be one of the big concerns on the day which once again put the authorities to the test. Already they had proven that they could cope with big match days in which football and basketball clashed.
The match between Rangers and St. Josephs clash with a major basketball match had seen few to no problems.
This time, just two days after, they faced the prospect of Polish and Gibraltar football fans mixing with basketball supporters.
A large deployment of officers were present outside the Tercentenary Sports Hall to ensure everyone’s safety.
Police sources indicating that although there were concerns over Polish fans arriving
they did not envisage a problem, and were there to ensure the calm.
As the Gibraltar team stepped out on the court they were met by a rousing rapture of applause. The Local lads were had already proven their worth.by reaching the semi-Finals. The critics and debate which had led to back some discussions now put behind as the very mmh local team had shown a determination leading at least one local coach to describe them as “probably one of the best team performances I have
seen,” prior to the match.
A deafening noise engulfed the hall as Gibraltar stepped out and won its first ball.
On the sideline seats the Gibraltar women’s team watched. The cheer, turned to roars as Gibraltar scored its first two points. The first of the match.
Saarema was to take the lead but not for long. some very determined and strong
depending set them up to take the first gap of five points with five minutes of the first quarter left.
The crowd were playing their part roaring, cheering, jeering, distracting and ensuring the visitors were aware that they were playing the host nation.
Saarema had already gained a reputation as a physical team but with two thirds of the first quarter gone this was not as yet felt. They nevertheless bounced back to equalise at 11-11 with four minutes of the first quarter to go with a minute on a half of first quarter the match was all level at 14-14, then 15-15.
The match’s intensity level continued into the second quarter with little difference between the two.
Saarema opened up a four point gap. Even keeping it for the better part of the quarter it was not enough. A low scoring quarter saw Gibraltar pounce back. The crowd more than willing to follow the calls of players to up the tempo. As they did Gibraltar
took the lead at 23-22. Saarema now Looking more and more frustrated.
A triple and a fist to chest saw the crowd roar as Gibraltar went 26-24.
Saarema weren’t yet beaten and jumped back into the lead 26-27.
The final minutes of the second quarter were intense exchanging points with two minutes to go they were at 28-28.
Gibraltar lost some of the momentum especially in defence falling back to 29-37 for halftime.
Gibraltar played for the comeback and pushed by the crowd started to do just that with half of the third quarter played they came to within 5 points.
Although Saarema were not letting go Gibraltar still looked at have a chance to overturn what had been a momentary lose of concentration before halftime. With the match at its full intensity the back scenes also highlighted the same intensity with police officers inside the sports hall, security at the doors and a lock down as a packed Tercentenary was now reaching a critical hour with football fans also due to arrive. Among those present away from public view were armed officers both inside and outside the tercentenary sports hall.
Neither players nor supporters were to really notice as the third quarter continued apace. With just two minutes to the end of the quarter Saamera had taken a nine point lead back again. Still Gibraltar responded and brought it down to five at 47-52.
Every point renewing a euphoric scream from players and fans alike.
The third quarter was to end at 51-56. Spectators were then advised that they should leave through back door of the stands and not the front doors in the interest of safety.
The intensity increased as shouts “defence, defence” roared loudly as Gibraltar defended. with three minutes played nearly the score had not moved.
Saarema were the first to add points.
A missed triple received the sighs as it bounced of the ream.
Basketball was being experiencing an intensity during the Island Games.
With six minutes to go Gibraltar was still fighting on and reduced the gap to four points. With three minutes left they reduced it to two points. With just twenty-six seconds on the clock Gibraltar were just the two points behind.
It was not to be though Saarema was to score two further points to win 60-64.
Even in defeat Gibraltar’s crowd stood to applaud Saarema who will today play in the finals. Gibraltar will be playing for bronze.
As the crowd left the hall, through the back door a well co-ordinate security by the police ensured local fans didn’t cross the path of visiting Polish fans, who had themselves caused no reason for concern up to that moment.