Niall Gray has been blogging on Team GB at Eurobasket and offers his insights on the Spain clash.

Going into this game I wondered if we’d see another Turkey performance or something akin to the Spain game from 2009. I’m pleased to say it was more of the latter, but only for the first half.

Yes, there were a few mistakes, turnovers especially, but otherwise GB fought hard throughout first 20 minutes. They were not prepared to give up easy baskets inside and were much better getting out to defend the three-point line.

The only real failure was getting the ball up the court. You’ve got to expect a lot of pressure from Ricky Rubio et al, and I hoped that during the break coach Chris Finch would be getting the message across to take better care of the ball. Sadly, turnovers would still be a problem after the break.

Up to the half, Spain were still the far better team, but the fact we were hanging in there was pleasing. Spain are probably the foreign team I am most aware of, simply because of the amount of players on their roster with NBA experience.

That will be added to when Ricky Rubio joins the Minnesota T’Wolves and here’s a player whose career I’ve followed ever since I saw him play for DKV Joventut (when they visited Guildford a few years ago in the ULEB Cup).

What I love about the Spanish is the quality of their passing and transition game and the Gasol brothers, who can dominate inside against most teams.

Unfortunately for GB, Pau and Marc came out in the second half and started to blow GB out of the water. Having been made to work hard for their baskets in the first half, the brothers were now getting to the hoop at will.

Just as it looked it was going to get ugly, Eric Boateng superbly blocked a Pau Gasol shot and I hoped this would be the spur they needed to get back in the game.

On the plus side the defence suddenly stepped up and made it harder for Spain to get the shots they wanted, but it was all wasted as GB continued to turn the ball over on the offensive end.

Just as I was going to make a note about GB going to go into the fourth quarter on the back of an eighteen-point deficit, up steps Kyle Johnson to hit a monster three-pointer off the glass at the buzzer! Too little, too late, but something nice to remember from the game.

Not much to report on from the fourth quarter as Spain pushed their lead at one point to 25. GB still tried hard but Spain’s class shone through and it was evident we were heading towards another defeat.

You do wonder what it would have been like had the likes of Ben Gordon, Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Rob Archibald had been playing, but I feel the result might have still have been the same. Spain are just that good.

Final score, 86-69 to Spain.

Day off on Saturday and then it’s Portugal on Sunday. Perhaps after playing the three best teams in the group, GB will finally get their first victory.

Despite three defeats in a row, I’m still optimistic GB will not be coming home winless from this Eurobasket.

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