Baptism of Fire in Riga
Our London United U17’s went on a collision course with European superpowers in Riga during the first stage of competition in the European Youth Basketball League (EYBL). While we have always known that our participation in EYBL will be extremely difficult and testing, we also understood that this is the only way to develop players on a truly European level. The fact that United was in the same group as four leading Lithuanian Academies (including Sabonis BC) and Russian powerhouse CSKA Moscow did not bode very well in terms of results. Indeed, the reality has proven to be very harsh introduction to top flight European basketball for our young Londoners.
London United lost all five games by considerable margins (full list of results
below).The most competitive performance proving to be against Alytus SRC, which after a spirited comeback our Londoners lost 65
-50. Throughout the entire tournament there was a very reoccurring aspect of physical inferiority in comparison to all other teams present in Riga. Despite of a very good performance from Carl Campbell, our Londoners were losing battles on both boards allowing the opposition to score easy points. The only player who provided a real threat on the perimeter, Keith Kayne was unable to compensate alone for lack of firepower and penetrating abilities of our young Londoners.
Coach Szatkowski was however definitely right when he stated “I can’t imagine a better way for our players to understand the demands of the international game. We must be very honest with ourselves, if we truly want to play on a European level we must play tournaments like that as often as possible. We have another trip to Riga in January and we know where we stand. The time between now and next tournament must be filled with titanic work, both on the court and the gym. Then we can judge whether we are mowing in the right direction”
EYBL Stage 1 Result:
LU v Sabonis BC:30-73
LU v BS Klaipeda:34-65
LU v VKM: 36-94
LUv Alytus SRC: 50-65