The second day of the Olympic Test event in London sees Great Britain lose to Croatia 75-70 on Wednesday night.
However Chris Finch’s side could take plenty of positives as they build towards EuroBasket in Lithuania, showing immense nerve to rally in the fourth quarter from as much as 18 behind before falling just short.
Malaga centre Joel Freeland hit a game-high 22 points and he sparked a flawless start for the hosts who led 13-3 before the Croats came to life. Their long-range shooting secured a 35-23 cushion and a seemingly irreversible dominance at half-time.
Shooting struggles held GB back, going just 1/12 from three-point range in the opening 20 minutes, eschewing opportunities inside.
But Freeland and GB’s impressive young point guard Andrew Lawrence ignited an improbable fightback as Finch’s men hit 14 straight points to set up a thrilling finale.
Lawrence drained a three before stealing the ball and being sent to the foul line where he hit both. And then Ogo Adegboye hit a mid-ranger jump shot to make it 69-66 with 3:06 on the clock to force a Croatian timeout.
But Ante Tomic broke the run with a floater. And despite Adegboye’s three point attempt going agonisingly close, that was as good as it got for Britain as the Croats - led by 16 from Kruno Simon – recovered, making the tie safe, and preserving their unbeaten record here, from the foul line in the closing seconds.
“I think we came out hot in the first quarter, second and third weren’t too good but we definitely showed we can compete in the fourth,” said Freeland.
“We brought it back in the final period, and it’s not easy to do that against world class teams. It was definitely better than yesterday. We’re learning all the time, we’ve only been together for two weeks and we have another two weeks to get better. We’re learning, and that’s what we’re here to do.”
Britain now meets Serbia on Thursday with Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng expected to report at practice, even if he is thought unlikely to play until the weekend.
“We’re still trying to gain respect and just show the world that we belong,” said GB guard Nate Reinking, who was rested for the Croatian tie.
“We want to show that we belong in that elite group of teams that’s going to be here next year.”
France 71 Australia 67
France won a nail-biting tie with Australia, claiming a 71-67 victory to remain unbeaten in the tournament.
Portland Trailblazers guard Patrick Mills hit two free-throws with 11 seconds left to draw the Boomers within one but in a free-throw contest in the closing seconds, the Gallic visitors survived thanks to the steady hand of Tony Parker.
France again relied on the potency of the Spurs guard, who had a game-high 27 points, but they were made to much work harder than against Britain 24 hours earlier with Mills sparking the Australians from the backcourt.
Down 15-11 at the end of the first quarter, the Aussies kept resolutely in touch with Les Bleus, trailing by just 5 at half-time.
After they had pulled 57-49 ahead with ten minutes left, a 9-3 run from the men from Down Under in the fourth put Vincent Collet’s men under acute pressure but Parker hit 3/4 from the line in the closing seconds to steer his team to safety.
Mills hit 20 for Australia.
Meanwhile, France centre Ronny Turiaf is set to miss EuroBasket with a broken hand after undergoing scans in London on Wednesday. The New York Knicks player picked up the injury during Tuesday’s win over Britain and FFB officials have confirmed to MVP that Turiaf will consider withdrawing from the squad if further tests in Paris show lasting damage.
“The hypothetical withdrawal of Ronny Turiaf, a player who is as important on the court as he is off it, could be a real blow to France,” France head coach Vincent Collet said. “I can only imagine how disappointed and frustrated Ronny would be to miss the EuroBasket.
“If he has to withdraw, we will see how to fill the void. For the time being I do not want to bring myself to think he is not a part of the team.”
Serbia 87 China 53 (Box score)
Milos Teodosic had 19 points as Serbia routed China 87-53 in the opening game of Day 2 of the Olympic test tournament.
The world championship semi-finals surged into a 22-15 lead in the first quarter but found an extra gear as half-time approached. Up 41-31 at the break, they continued to pull away, saving their best until the fourth to grab an emphatic win.
YI Jianlian had a game-high 20 the Chinese, who remain winless and have lost Wang Shipeng for 4-6 weeks with broken wrist.
Thursday. France v China (3.30), Australia v Croatia (6pm), Great Britain v Serbia (8.30)
Images: MAP Photos/BB
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