London United U14s have finished their successful European campaign finishing 8th in the Superfinal of EYBL held in Valmiera, Riga. There is no doubt that United’s fate in the tournament was sealed in their first game against DSN Sporta Bode (Latvia) which our Londoners have lost 55-41.The structure of the tournament dictated that after this defeat United could not finish higher than seventh overall. Mindful of the importance of this game our Londoners started strong, relying on their customary aggressive full court press defence. Halfway through the first quarter, United was leading by 7 points seemed to be firing on all cylinders. However, with time passing by the Latvian team found their way to combat United’s press started to connect their shots from long range .Unfortunately for us, our shooting percentage was declining at an alarming rate, culminating with a poor performance from charity stripe where our young Londoners struggled with a 29-9 record.
In the second game completely a rejuvenated United beat SKM Riteriai (Lithuania)52-37. Our young Londoners gave a very balanced performance sharing the ball and finding open positions to shot. Most importantly, United players started shooting much better from the perimeter and did not allow the Lithuanians to rely on their zone defence.
In the last game United faced the European giant Zalgiris Kaunas. The Lithuanian powerhouse had also fallen victim of the tournament structure after a defeat by the tournament Oxygen Orange (Italy) sent them to the lower part of the competition. Despite the tremendous reputation of Zalgiris, the young Londoners showed no signs intimidation and stayed within touching distance from the very beginning. The game was a close encounter with Zalgiris holding only a 6 points advantage entering the last 3 minutes of the game. Unfortunately, during the last minutes of the game, Zalgiris showed their experience and sailed to a deserved 61-47 victory.
Emma Chambers, Director of London United was very direct in her comments: ”This was extremely successful season for this group of players. Coach Kelson and these young boys have worked very hard, starting as absolute beginners 2 years ago and 24 months later finishing 2nd in England and 8th in the EYBL. This confirms to us that playing on the international scene is the best way to develop young players through providing quality experience, opportunities and exposure. We look forward to seeing what the future has in store for this young squad”