On Friday, University of North Carolina's Neil Fingleton, the 7-5 redshirt-freshman center and native of Durham, England, concluded his participation with the Great Britain basketball team, in the 21st World University Games in Beijing, China.
Last week we provided some details of Neil's time in China, from the Opening Ceremony excitement through preliminary round victories over Hong Kong and Russia.
Here's a recap of Neil's activity since then:
Saturday (8/25): No game ... Richard "Bam" Windle, a teammate of Neil Fingleton, maintained a most entertaining and informative diary of his Beijing experiences at www.sheffieldsharks.com during the Games. He described the team's off-day activities as "very relaxed ... with visits to Tiannamen Square, the Forbidden City and the Chinese History Museum."
Sunday (8/26): Great Britain 94, South Korea 77 ... Fingleton played only 4 minutes and did not score. According to Britball.com's game report, Great Britain went with a quicker team to better defend the perimeter against the 3-point shooters of South Korea, thus reducing Fingleton's role in the game.
Monday (8/27): USA 91, Great Britain 62 ... Neil's stats were not great -- 2 points on 1-for-6 shooting, 5 rebounds and 5 turnovers during 22 minutes versus the Americans. His USA counterpart, 6-10 center Melvin Ely of Fresno State, did not fare much better, however -- scoring 4 points on 2-for-7 shooting. At any rate, the loss put to rest Great Britain's high hopes of getting a medal.
Tuesday (8/28): Brazil 72, Great Britain 58 ... Britball.com reported the Brits had some early success and that, Fingleton was "in a forceful mood." However, a pathetic 8-point 3rd quarter, attributed to poor shooting, doomed Great Britain to another defeat. Neil played 21 minutes, had 4 points (2-7 FG, 0-1 FT), pulled down 8 rebounds and had 2 blocks.
Wednesday (8/29): No game ... The day off was set aside to visit the the vast spectacle of the Great Wall of China, Richard Windle noted in his diary: "Neil bought a Samurai sword and a dagger! (I don't know how he'll get into England with it, he couldn't even get it into the village!) [Neil] has the haggling down to a fine art. They start out at 500 yuan and he ends up paying 50! That's a bit of a difference," Windle's journal entry stated.
Thursday (8/30): Czech Republic 92, Great Britain 79 ... 22 minutes, 6 points (3-6 FG, 0-2 FT) and 1 rebound for Neil, as the British lost their 3rd game in a row, dropped to a record of 3-3 and awaited Greece, a 95-93 loser to Russia, to battle for 11th-place.
Friday (8/31): Greece 94, Great Britain 86 ... Loss number 4 -- in a row and overall -- sent Great Britain to a disappointing 12th-place finish among the 27 teams entered in the competition. Neil tossed in 6 points, with some improved shooting, going 2-for-3 from the field and 2 of 4 from the line, and grabbed 7 rebounds during 20 minutes.
In the end, the fact that Neil Fingleton was able to play a substantial role for his team under some tough circumstances, 7 games over 10 days, and be on the court for 143 minutes out of a possible 280 minutes, has to be considered a major step in the right direction for the 7-5 redshirt-freshman's development as a player, and for the recuperation from back surgery of a year ago.
That development will resume when practice begins on October 13th in Chapel Hill.
World University Games cumulative statistics for Neil Fingleton:
7 Games | Minutes: 143 | MPG: 20.4 | Points: 46 | PPG: 6.6 | FG's: 18-39 | FG%: 46.2 | FT's: 10-24 | FT%: 41.7 | RPG: 4.9 | BPG: 1.0 |