May 21 2013 Latest news:
By Ben Pearce
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Men’s basketball - Group B:
Spain 79 Great Britain 78
Britain’s basketball team nearly caused a big upset at the Olympics, closing a 12-point gap to just one point in the final 10 minutes against the world’s No2 outfit Spain.
But the hosts were unable to complete their brave comeback and lost by the narrowest of margins, suffering their third successive defeat at the Games.
The GB team included Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Drew Sullivan, who both represented Haringey in the London Youth Games as teenagers, as well as NBA star Luol Deng, who began his basketball career in Brixton.
They trailed the Spanish throughout and ended the third quarter 12 points behind, but battled back to trail 79-78 in the final seconds – only to run out of time.
Britain’s latest loss leaves them bottom of Group B with two fixtures remaining against China and Australia – and they need to finish in the top four of the six teams to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Spain, who dominated under both baskets to control the majority of the possession, led from the start after taking an early 6-0 lead.
Joel Freeland pegged them back to 6-3 and then 8-5, but the visitors went on to extend their lead to 11 points and ended the first quarter 25-15 ahead.
The second period was better from a GB perspective. Freeland added the final touch to a shot from Deng and Mensah-Bonsu was fouled while scoring, adding the penalty shot to complete a three-point play as the hosts cut the deficit to five points.
But Spain hit back with a three-pointer and, although Mensah-Bonsu set up Dan Clark before Freeland added to his score, the visitors led 37-29 at half-time.
It was nip and tuck all the way through the third quarter, but Britain lost the influential Mensah-Bonsu, who grew up in Tottenham and went to school in Wood Green, after his fifth technical foul.
The host nation thought they had narrowed the gap to seven points as Deng set up Freeland, but his basket was ruled out for a technical foul by Deng – and Spain were consequently given two free throws, which put them 11 points ahead again
Sullivan completed a three-point play but Spain ended the third quarter 12 points ahead and appeared to be on their way to a comfortable victory.
Britain had other plans though and majestic three-pointers from Freeland, Dan Clark, Nate Reinking and Deng put the hosts right back in contention in the last five minutes.
They closed the gap to a single point in the climactic final seconds - but there wasn’t time for a match-changing score as Spain held on to win their third game in a row.