He’s baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack. After a sojourn of a few months, BallinEurope’s man in England, Sam Chadwick, is back to contribute on matters Britain- and NBA-related. Today, Mr. C. takes a look at the performance of Team Britain in the recent FIBA U20 European Championship along with some salient suggestions on how FIBA might reorganize such tournaments.
Despite all the hype, promise and huge amounts of talent in this year’s Under 20 GB squad, the tournament as a whole ended up as a complete failure; the team’s hunt for Division A promotion ended in a 13th place finish despite wins over Israel (who finished in 11th place) twice and the Czech Republic (third-place finishers) once.
With a final record of 7-2, it seems strange to think that 13th position could be awarded to this squad and that they should not have been higher, but should they? Last year’s GB U20 finished at a similar 6-2 and managed sixth place with a win over no. 3 Poland. Is it odd that a team with this record could finish so low two years in a row?
This year’s squad is possibly the most talented squad Great Britain has ever produced, despite some of our top ballers missing, including last year’s scoring leader Ovie Soko due to college commitments. We still had San Antonio Spurs draft pick Ryan Richards, top international PG Devon Van Oostrum, Scottish big man Alasdair Fraser and a host of other top British prospects.
Unfortunately, I think the disappointing finish is more a problem with the system than with the team.
Here is how it went down: We finished the group stage with a 2-2 record but due to a two-way tie ended up in 4th place below Finland (one of the team’s two losses); this in turn led to us going into the 9th to 13th playoff Group H, starting with a 0-1 record and a negative point differential. Despite winning all our playoff games, Team Britain still dropped to 3rd in the group at 2-1 overall. Again as a result of this, the best position we could hope for was 13th place.
Great Britain then played Romania, the winner of which would go into the final game for 13th place and the loser into the 15th place game. GB dominated that game and came away with a 54-point romp of Romania despite missing Richards to an ankle injury. GB’s last game came over Iceland for a final score of GB 83, Iceland 71, and a 13th place finish.
As you can see from the above, we beat Israel (11th place) twice, the same team that finished second in Group H and went into the 11th place playoff, and Finland against whom we went 1-1 and who played for ninth place.
The U20s tournament is one of the biggest disappointments of the summer and I’m sure many nations have had a problem in the way the classification games are carried out by FIBA, feeling the need for complete reorganisation, while the group stages need to be amended so that the end results give a more accurate picture of who the best teams actually are.
This tournament had four groups in the preliminary round; two groups had five teams and two groups had four, resulting in the latter groups having a 50% success rate as the former two got a harder passage.
The classification groups were then put at a severe advantage/disadvantage with teams finishing third in the group being given a 1-0 record and the fourth-placers getting an 0-1 mark.
For FIBA to get a more complete score of these groups, could the following not be introduced?
• Preliminary stage: Minimum five-team groups with all play each other team once; in cases of ties, the team with the best point differential wins the tiebreaker despite wins and losses versus other teams.
• Playoff stage: Two groups with all third-, fourth-, and fifth-place teams all playing one another twice. Teams finishing first in each group then play for 9th and 10th positions; teams finishing second play for 11th and 12th positions and so on.
This would give a clearer and more accurate classification of teams finishing 9th to 15th as well as more games for all teams. For FIBA to continue its success at youth tournaments, changes need to be made to make sure rankings/classifications are as accurate as possible.
Sam Chadwick is a university student, part-time sportswriter and a coach in the Solent Kestrels organization.