Great Britain lost 95-75 to Russia in their first Olympic game since 1948 on Sunday night.
Chris Finch’s men found themselves over-powered by the size and depth of their Group B rivals and repeated turnovers cost them dearly as Andrei Kirilenko scored a game-high 35 points.
It was hardly a surprise after the hosts struggles in the build-up to the Games but they never recovered after the 2007 European champions took control with an 8-0 run in the second quarter.
And now Britain – who were paced by 26 from Luol Deng – must try to get their bid to reach the knock-out stages off the ground on Monday against a Brazilian side which beat Australia 75-71.
GB were impressive in the early going as they built an 11-7 advantage before long-range shooting from Russia saw them snatch the lead and end the quarter 24-19 ahead.
Despite GB twice cutting the deficit to three points early in the second, Russia then took control of the game as they hit GB on the counter, pushing their lead to 38-25.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu asserted himself to keep Great Britain within touching distance but Russia took a 49-34 lead into the break.
Both teams came out firing in the third but GB were unable to cut into the deficit and trailed 71-58 going into the final quarter.
Great Britain opened the fourth with a lovely coast-to-coast move from Luol Deng, and his subsequent foul shot made it 66-56. But it was as close as GB would get as Russia claimed the win, pushing the lead to 22 points in the final two minutes.
“We ask Lu to do a lot for us,” said GB coach Chris Finch. “He attacked a lot, I don’t know if that was a sign of frustration, but it comes from a good place.
“He is a good attacking player and that’s what we will continue to ask of him.”
He added: “It’s a big moment for our guys, maybe at times they tried too hard individually. Luol maybe could have set his team-mates up a bit better.”
Russia’s coach David Blatt was not impressed because despite a 20-point win, Russia were out-rebounded 47-32 by Great Britain.
“Someonce said that size is not the level of a man’s stature,” said Blatt. “I don’t know if we have reached the level of our size.
“If we could just get a darn rebound, we could really be dangerous.”
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Earlier, Kevin Durant hit a game-high 22 points as the USA thrashed France 98-71 in their Olympic opener. The 2008 gold medallists never trailed in the game but a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Yannick Boloko at the end of the first quarter brought the French back to trail just 22-21.
But the USA went on an 11-0 run inside two minutes and after leading 52-36 at half-time, the 2008 gold medallists pulled away. France, paced by a team-best 12 points from Ali Traore, went 2-22 from three-point range and ultimately were very much second-best.
There were also wins in Group B for Spain, who beat China 81-65 and Brazil – GB’s next opponents - who edged out Australia 75-71. In Group A, Nigeria held off Tunisia 60-56 while Luis Scola hit 32 points as Argentina routed Lithuania 102-79.
Nigeria 60-56 Tunisia, Brazil 75-71 Australia, USA 98-71 France, Spain 81-65 China, GB 75-95 Russia, Argentina 102-79 Lithuania
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