U18 Men Division C
|The Welsh spoilt the party of their hosts almost reluctantly, as all participating teams were in agreement that San Marino organised a fantastic tournament that sets new standards for hospitality and professionalism in Division C|
Wales spoilt the party of hosts San Marino by defeating them, 65-60, on the last day of the tournament to conquer the U18 European Championship Division C title.
The two sides were tied at the top of the standings with a perfect 3-0 record when they took to the court at Serravalle, so the game was in effect, if not by name, a final.
The hosts scored the first six points of the encounter to the delight of the festive 1,400-strong crowd, an absolute attendance record in Youth Division C tournaments, that had inundated the arena in expectation of a triumph for the local team.
The Brits though were in no mood to join in the celebrations and reacted quickly to finish the first quarter up by four, 19-15.
San Marino regained the initiative immediately in the second quarter and the half-time buzzer found them leading 35-31.
The local crowd were not going to have their party though, despite the fact the hosts had done an excellent job up to that point to contain the main Welsh weapon, Jacob David Lloyd.
The guard was on a unusually disreet day, shooting onyl 27 percent from the floor, but first point guard Sumiullah Khan and then center Harley James Andrews stepped up to finish the job.
Khan and Andrews had 17 and 16 points respectively through the tight second half, to help the visitors resist the enormous pressure down the stretch and lead them to the 65-60 triumph, after a thrilling finale.
MVP Julian Gualtieri posted 14 points for the hosts, but his shooting percentages too were poor on the day and ultimately it was not enough to avoid defeat.
"I'm so proud of the players, they gave everything, it's been an 18-month journey that concluded with a great final," Wales Head Coach Andrew Leftley said after the game.
"Thankfully Wales were at the correct end of the result. Thank you to all involved, the players have a lot to be proud of," he added.
Wales Basketball Federation President William Jones, who travelled to San Marino to support the team along with the Welsh fans was delighted
"This result is a huge achievement and just a reward for the hard work and dedication put in by the coaching staff, the players, parents and all who have supported the development of this squad," he commented after the triumph.
"This follows a week when our U16 team secured a bronze medal at the same venue. A special thank you goes to the families and relatives who travelled here, they were our 'sixth player'.
"This is a proud moment for me," the extremely satisfied Welsh Federation president concluded.