It was a familiar story for Great Britain on Thursday evening as they came agonisingly close, but ultimately short, falling 79-78 to Spain at the Olympic Basketball Arena.
The loss puts them in a do or die situation, with their next two games against Australia and China being must-wins to stand any chance of advancing out the group.
The game doesn’t come without controversy either, with GB trailing by 1 and the seconds ticking off, Dan Clark appeared to foul Jose Calderon but no call was given as he was allowed to dribble out the clock.
Luol Deng finished with 26 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists, and Joel Freeland was impressive with 25 points and 7 rebounds.
After the game, head coach Chris Finch was disappointed with the loss, but emphasised the importance of the team being in close game situations to gain the experience needed to get over the hump:
“Close games is what we have to be in. We’re not gonna out-talent anyone, we’re not gonna win by double digits, we’re just gonna have to fight and try to win games that are close late. That’s the biggest step for our programme to keep putting ourselves in that position and our players have to remain mentally tough until they can crack it through.”
Andrew Lawrence, who stepped up off the bench after seeing limited minutes in the first two games commented:
“We have to start winning these games. We’re putting ourselves in a lot of great positions but a few key turnovers, a few missed plays down the stretch. But we’ll get it right.”
Jose Calderon had 19 points and some clutch free throws down the stretch, with Pau Gasol adding 17 points.
France beat Lithuania 82-74.
Tony Parker has 27, Nicolas Batum 21 for France. Linas Kleiza had 17 to lead Lithuania.
Australia beat China 81-61
Patty Mills leads Australia with 20, Wang has 21 for China.
Argentina beat Tunisia 92-69.
Manu Ginobili put in a spectacular first half performance to finish with 24 (19 in the first half), Carlos Delfino had 21, and Luis Scola added 20.
Russia beat Brazil 75-74
With clutch play after clutch play, it was Russia who ultimately came out on top, with Vitaliy Fridzon hitting a three as he was falling over to win the game with 4 seconds left. Andrei Kirilenko led Russia with 19 points, with Timofey Mozgov adding 18. Leandrinho Barbosa led Brazil with 16 points.
USA beat Nigeria 156-73
In a ridiculously dominant, and record-breaking display, USA crushed Nigeria behind Carmelo Anthony’s 37 points, on 10/12 three point shooting, in just 14 minutes (!). Ike Diogu was the only guy to show up for Nigeria with 27 points and 7 rebounds.
- A 9am start didn’t stop the Lithuanian fans from making *a lot* of noise. Awesome.
- I’m not one to blame officials, but some horrific refereeing in the GB – Spain game. Horrific.
- Dan Clark’s ankle seems to be pretty bad. Huge respect to him for playing through it.
- A lot of empty seats for the GB game. And a dead crowd until the final minute. Disappointing. Seems to stem from selling the tickets on a ‘per session’ basis which includes two games. People are choosing the game they want to show up to and missing the other (USA game after was packed).
- Finch also added in the press conference that ‘moral victories are still losses’. The players/staff are visibly frustrated with not being able to get that all important win just as much as the fans are.
- No doubt the Portland press are going to be buzzing over Freeland’s performance against high calibre NBA bigs.
- Carmelo Anthony’s three point shooting display is the greatest long range performance I’ve witnessed since Marcus Eriksson at Future Stars a couple of years ago.
- Arguably the most entertaining day of basketball I have ever witnessed. The Russia gamewinner, GB – Spain thriller and USA dominance were all moments I will never forget.
Thoughts on any of the games? What do GB need to do to get their first win? Let us know in the comments!
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