GB Senior Men Push Russia Close in Fifth EuroBasket Defeat

Great Britain Senior Men signed off their EuroBasket 2017 campaign with a fifth defeat as they fell to an 82-70 loss against Russia in Istanbul, on Thursday.

The final score doesn’t reflect how close GB came to upsetting the Russians with another valiant fourth quarter fightback bringing Joe Prunty’s side within one in what was his last game in charge.

Gabe Olaseni has certainly left his mark on the tournament and finished with 19 points and nine boards with Dan Clark putting up a team-high of 21 points, whilst turning provider with six assists.

Gareth Murray was also in double figures with 10 points in one of his most confident offensive displays in a GB jersey.

Box score.

The Alexey Shved-Timofey Mozgov connection was evident immediately for Russia as they combined for an alley-oop to open the scoring, but GB started well with Clark and Olaseni combining for nine points to help establish an early 11-10 lead.

Russia responded with a 13-2 run capped by back-to-back triples before Gareth Murray ended the first quarter with a deep three with GB trailing 16-23.

Shved continued to pull the strings for his side with 13 points and four assists in the first half as Russia pulled clear through their outside shooting. Andrey Vorontsevich had nine points all from downtown in helping establish a 43-31 half-time advantage with the team going 9-of-17 from three.

Treys from Clark and Murray helped cut the deficit back into single figures early in the third, but Russia continued to find Mozgov inside with ease, while Shved kept his hot-hand going to restore control.

However, GB rallied again and this time with more conviction as they put together a 13-3 spell to close within three as Clark moved to 16 points with a further two triples, the second of which from way downtown.

Mozgov dominated on the offensive glass and scored the final four points of the quarter to earn Russia some valuable breathing space at 61-54 ahead of the last 10 minutes of GB’s campaign.

The gap was down to five through Ben Mockford, but after landing awkwardly was unable to get back on the other end and Vitaly Fridzon was wide-open to knock the down the three to make it 56-64.

That would be Russia’s only basket in the opening five minutes as GB were able to keep up their fight, crucially, at both ends of the floor.

GB were back to within just two points after a 6-0 burst and would soon be even closer as Clark netted five points in a row to make it 67-68 heading into the closing stages.

But, it was time for Shved to take over.

The 2017 EuroCup MVP hit a couple of big threes and six free throws as part of a 12-point blitz to help Russia weather the storm in a dominant finish to give them a flattering final winning margin.

Shved finished with a game-high 30 points along with eight assists with Russia shooting over 40% from downtown as they advance with a 4-1 record.

Five defeats from five for GB, though there have definitely been positives to take forward. The focus turns towards the World Cup Qualifiers that begin in November, under new leadership.

Notes

– GB’s starters were Okereafor, Johnson, Murray, Clark & Olaseni
– Lawrence (sickness), Dang Akodo & Josephs DNP
– GB’s first World Cup Qualifier is against Greece in Leicester in November

  • LLC#12

    First things first, I’m mostly proud of the guys, despite the results, and I appreciate the commitment that all the players and coaches have made. There is all too often too much talk about who’s not turned up for GB, rather than just appreciating the guys who have.

    Special mention to Joe Prunty, who has done a decent job in tricky circumstances, and I wish him well for his life after GB.

    Although we didn’t win any games, we went toe to toe with teams that frankly speaking, on paper are streets ahead of us. We have 0 current NBA/Euroleague players in our squad, compared with Russia for example, which has an entire squad with NBA/Euroleague experience. Same goes for Serbia and nearly all of the Turkey/Latvia squads.

    There are definitely some positives to take out of the tournament, namely the play of Olaseni, the continued excellent play of Clark, and the developing depth in the guard positions.

    There have been negatives though. I’ve found the number of open 3’s we’ve given teams disappointing, especially considering how renowned as shooters some of these players are. For instance, Andrey Vorontsevich, who last year hit 48% of his 3s playing for one of the best clubs in Europe, was left free to shoot 7 or 8 3’s against us today. He is just one example of many. I don’t know how much of it is down to just poor defence, and how much of it is down to us not knowing the opposition well enough.

    I also feel we often shot too many low % 3s off the dribble, even though we did show throughout the tournament that we could create decent opportunities (we’d scored the 3rd most points in our group after 4 games).

    Perhaps both of these shortcomings can be attributed to a relative lack of experience compared to our opponents, but either way they both cost us.

    Also, it is difficult to not be negative about the Belgium game. Although our other 4 losses were against teams that, in all honesty, are quite a bit more talented than we are, the loss against Belgium was extremely disappointing.

    The biggest negative though has nothing to do with the players/coaches, but the fans. I continue to be baffled how so many British people claim to be basketball fans, yet don’t show any interest/support whatsoever in our national team. The same people then wonder why our national team doesn’t get more funding!!

    Looking forward to the WC qualifiers, the biggest positive is how much the new qualification system plays in our favour. All 12 of our guys should be able to suit up in November (+ hopefully the return of Myles Hesson). In contrast, look at Greece, their entire EuroBasket squad plays either in the NBA or the Euroleague, so they will have to build a team from scratch. Israel will also be without some of their best players (Casspi/Mekel/Ohayon).

    Looking further ahead, I really hope the success of the junior programmes this summer helps to grow the pool of quality senior players. With a bit more depth, we might have pulled off a couple of wins. The importance of depth can be seen clearest by looking at Serbia. Missing 7 starting-calibre, really high quality players, and they are still one of the strongest teams in the tournament.

  • Roha Varejao

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    basketball lovers https://mybasketteam.com/

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