Tony Parker was unstoppable for France as he led them to an 80-58 victory over Great Britain on the first day of the London International Basketball Invitational.
Parker finished with 23 points in three quarters to lead the French side, who looked rattled early before cruising out to a comfortable victory. Joel Freeland led GB with 16 points, Nate Reinking had 11 and Mike Lenzly added 9.
Head coach Chris Finch, felt there were both positive and negatives to take from the game:
“At moments we played well, but at moments we played like a young team trying to find itself which we pretty much are out there. I thought are effort was really good, we just came apart at the wrong time. The key for us is to learn quickly and get ready for tomorrow.”
Dan Clark was pleased with the performance, but recognised there is still room for improvement:
“I thought the first half was a lot better than the second but there’s certainly good things to take from tonight and we’re coming together well. The younger players are learning how to fit in with the team and having Joel back helped as we know how he plays.
“We need to get better, there’s still things to work on but it’s early.”
Tony Parker looked unstoppable for France early on, using his quickness to exploit match-ups, however, hot shooting from Nate Reinking kept GB up as they led 6-5 just under midway through the first period.
It wasn’t long before GB’s young guys saw some action, as Andrew Lawrence and Devon Van Oostrum checked in. They connected immediately as Devon found Lawrence wide open for a baseline three. Tony Parker once again responded, making a lovely dish down low to Noah for the dunk, reducing the deficit to four as GB led 13-9.
A Noah putback off a missed Tony Parker free throw gave France their first lead of the game, 16-15, but Andrew Lawrence made a nice move to the basket down the other end, scoring on a layup to put GB back up 17-16 with two minutes left.
France refused to relent though, piling on the pressure to finish the first quarter up 20-18 behind 10 points from Tony Parker.
Both teams couldn’t buy a basket for the first two minutes of the second period, before Noah drew a foul inside to head to the line. He missed them both, as Freeland hit a tough shot in the lane to tie the game up at 20 with 7 minutes remaining. Both teams continued to struggle, failing to score for a further minute and a half, before Dan Clark hit an elbow jumpshot to regain the lead for GB 22-20 with 5 minutes to play in the half. France couldn’t convert at the other end, as Nate Reinking gave GB a four point cushion with a jumpshot of his own.
Batum responded, going on a 4-0 run of his own to tie the game at 24. France had all the momentum as Batum got a mid-court alley oop and threw it down reverse to electrify the crowd. The game remained close, before another huge Batum dunk put France up 32-27 with two minutes remaining in the half.
France went into the halftime break with 34-29 lead on GB, as Batum took his tally to 8 points, as GB were led by 9 points from veteran Nate Reinking and 6 from big man Dan Clark.
Freeland started the scoring in the second half as he hit a short jumper off an offensive rebound, but France immediately responded hitting a baseline three. The teams continued to trade baskets, but France began to pull away, leading 41-33 with seven minutes left in the third. Tony Parker led the third quarter onslaught with 13 points, as France held a 60-48 led on GB heading into the final period.
It looked to be more of the same in the final period as Albicy came out hot, scoring 4 straight points. However, Freeland and Ryan Richards checked in making their presence felt, as the deficit was reduced instantly, with France leading just 64-56 with 6 minutes left to play. France, with Tony Parker watching from the bench, refused to get rattled, going on a run of their own at they took a 72-56 lead with 3 minutes left to play.
Lenzly hit two foul shots as Freeland went to the bench for the rest of the night. Diaw scored on a surprisingly athletic play at the other end before an Andrew Lawrence turnover led to another France score. France cruised the rest of the way for the final result.
Australia 71 – 43 China
Australia were led by 15 points from Peter Crawford, 14 from David Barlow whilst Aj Ogilvy has 11. Damian Martin had 1 point but 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Bo Zhang has 13 points to lead China, with Jianlian Yi adding 7 (check out his fast break dunk here). Full box score can be found here.|
Croatia 83-71 Serbia
Croatia led by 17 points from Krunoslav Simon, Dontaye Draper with 12, Ante Tomic 11 and Marko Tomas 10. Milos Teodosic had 18 points for Serbia, being joined in double figures by Nenad Kristic (10) and Milan Macvan (10). Full box score can be found here.
- There are no less than 9 NBA players appearing in the tournament-Great Britain has Luol Deng (Chicago Bulls), Australia has Patty Mills (Portland Trailblazers), China has Jianlian Yi (Washington Wizards), whilst France has, wait for it, Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls), Nicolas Batum (Portland Trailblazers), Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs), Kevin Seraphin (Washington Wizards), Boris Diaw (Charlotte Bobcats), Ronny Turiaf (New York Knicks)
- Olympic basketball arena is amazing, but as I heard no numerous occasions throughout the day, such a shame it is only temporary. The ODA said in a press conference on Monday they were worried about it become a ‘white elephant’, as they look to the handball arena to provide the legacy for basketball.
- The France-GB game was by far the best of the day. GB had their moments, and I think kept it closer than many expected, but ultimately the third quarter, where Tony Parker took over sealed the victory. Parker looked unstoppable.
- France’s Nicolas Batum had the top three plays of the day all by himself, including catching a mid-court alley oop reverse, a huge one hander down the lane (caught Sullivan a little bit) and another alley oop.
- Australia’s NBA guy Patty Mills registered a DNP, whilst China’s, Yi struggled. Luol was unfortunately absent (will be joining GB for the weekend) whilst France’s guys looked in good form.
- GB starters: Ogo Adegboye, Nate Reinking, Drew Sullivan, Dan Clark, Joel Freeland. Kyle Johnson and Laurence Ekperigin sat out.
- GB went for extended periods playing Lenzly and Nate Reinking in the backcourt with no “true” point guard.
- Joel Freeland was our best player. Great performance by him, and didn’t look out of place going up against the French NBA guys at all.
- Celeb watch: British comedian Jimmy Carr was in the audience (picture).
- The fact none of these games are being broadcast/televised until the weekend is an absolute farce.
- No-one has surprised more this summer than Andrew Lawrence. Was once again solid today. Made a few mistakes, which is to be expected, but going up against Tony Parker, he more than held his own.
- You can find a short little video recap of the GB vs France game in the BBC’s report.
- You can listen to Chris Finch and Drew Sullivan’s thoughts on the game against France here.
- There has been a lot of criticism of Luol Deng for not joining the team until the weekend, with people questioning his commitment. I find that outrageous. GB wouldn’t be where they are today without him. The level of commitment he has shown to his adopted home country (which he didn’t have to represent), giving up his summer every year for the past few years to represent us should not be sniffed at. Not sure how many other NBA stars you’d find be willing to do the same.
Image Credit: Mansoor Ahmed Photography
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