Taking advantage of their athleticism and size, England defeated Austria 85-80 in the teams' final quarter-final round games of the UMCOR U18 European Championship Men Division B in Sibiu, Romania.
Following Sweden's 67-64 loss to Romania later in the day, the English clinched a spot in the semi-final round.
As the Sweden-Romania game came to an end, English coach Tim Lewis breathed a sigh of relief and players hugged and celebrated from the stands.
"These kids have done an outstanding job," Lewis said.
"No one expected us to get this far."
|Dan Clark had 20 points and 17 rebounds for England.|
As for their win earlier in the day, one statistics tells the story: England had more offensive boards than Austria’s total rebounding.
Getting what seemed like two and three opportunities on every possession, England took a double digit lead in the third quarter when they outscored Austria 23-13.
In total, England had a 61-22 rebounding advantage. Of the 61, 28 came on the offensive glass.
Dan Clark, the competition’s leading rebounder, finished with 17 boards and Orlan Jackman collected 11 (eight offensive).
“They are a tough team and they did a good job considering they are so undersized. They have perimeter players playing down low,” said Lewis.
“To our credit, we took advantage of our size, used our athleticism and established authority down low.”
Despite the significant rebounding edge, England would have to withstand a late comeback attempt from Austria.
England committed six turnovers over a six-minute stretch in the fourth quarter and a three-pointer from Austria’s Aleksandar Trivan cut the lead to five with 3:24 to go.
Following another English turnover, Matthias Weißl buied a three to bring Austria to within one.
Austria had two opportunities to go ahead, but couldn’t convert, and Samuel Fernley made three of four free throws in the final minute to help secure England’s win.