EUROBASKET: TURKEY SHOOT DOWN GB

Great Britain remain winless at EuroBasket after an 84-70 defeat to Turkey on Saturday.

The co-hosts, paced by a game-high 24 points from Meli Mahmutoglu, broke their own duck in Group D but Joe Prunty’s men, now 0-2, toiled to consistently find ways to restrict their foes defensively, especially in a torrid first half.

Falling as much as 16 behind in the third quarter, there was a surge of sorts, sparked by Andrew Lawrence who hit six of his 15 points in the fourth period, but it was too little, too late.

Mistakes were costly, Prunty admitted.

“The biggest difference in the game was just making sure we took care of the ball,” the GB coach said. “They had 28 points off our turnovers and that’s tough to battle back from.”

Defensively, the Brits struggled to cope with the size of the co-hosts from the outside, relying on outside shooting to keep them within reach and praying for damage limitation at the other end.

Amid a promising start, the strategy held firm, threes from Dan Clark, Teddy Okereafor and Luke Nelson compiling an early 9-0 run to inject a small splash of anxiety into a partisan home crowd.

Recognition that some muscle was needed came with an early appearance for Eric Boateng, who did not play at all during his 100th cap in the 103-90 loss to Belgium 24 hours earlier.

He scored immediately but then, in quick succession, picked up three fouls amid a 10-0 burst completed by a three from Cleveland Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman that pushed his side ahead for good.

Down 23-18 after the opening period, Prunty went small with four guards supplementing Clark but with the veteran making only 3/14 from the field, the gap swiftly increased with another seven unanswered points and even a move into a zone defence could not knock Turkey out of their stride.

Defensive gaps opened, especially in the low post. UIfuk Sarica’s men kept pushing merrily through and with Mahmutoglu’s trio of three-pointers adding spice from the exterior, the Brits trailed 49-36 at the break.

Gabe Olaseni ended with a double-double (Mansoor Ahmed)

Significant adjustments were required. None could wholly reverse the flow.

Another three from Mahmutoglu – who would convert 7/11 from beyond the arc – extended the advantage to 54-38. Hope seemed lost and fortune too when Prunty was charged a double timeout for not breaking the huddle in good time.

Yet the unlikely figure of Ben Mockford provided a spark, hitting a corner trey which capped a 7-0 flurry that reduced the deficit to nine and then converting a floater that wiped a further point off moments later.

Turnovers, 18 of them in total, hurt GB’s cause. Okereafor carelessly allowed Furkan Korkmaz to steal in and pull away for a dunk that kept the hosts 64-54 in front at the close of the third.

Tenaciously, Prunty’s side kept chipping, for the first time delivering enough aggressiveness to put Turkey on the back foot.

A block from Kieron Achara set a tone and it was the captain whose two free throws concluded a 9-2 run that had GB within five.

Osman, however, kept proving elusive and the wily presence inside of Semi Erden, who added 19, too often proved irresistible.

Six further straight points from GB stifled the impetus once more but even though Olaseni’s three-point play sliced the cushion to 70-65 with 6:04 left, that was as close as the visitors came.

“The biggest thing is you have to keep the pressure on them,” Prunty acknowledged. “We have to keep the foot on the gas pedal so to speak.

“Whether it’s taking care of the ball, or knocking down the open shot, I thought we had some good looks…when you’re making the run, you need to keep pressure on that team because they’ll start to feel it.”

The foot, instead, was taken off and the air returned to Turkey’s pipes, just enough to breath easily.

Olaseni’s pair of free throws near the end took his own tally to a double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds but two quick scores in the last seven seconds – the latter, fittingly, another three from Mahmutoglu – inflicted needless damage on GB’s goal average.

“We just couldn’t get over the hump,” Lawrence conceded. “They made a lot of shots down the stretch so you have to give them credit.”

Now GB badly need to upset Latvia on Monday afternoon to keep their already damaged ambitions alive.

“I thought for the majority of the game we had good ball movement,” the guard added.

“We had a lot of open shots. Unfortunately we couldn’t know a lot of them down. Collectively, we are together as a group and that’s important. We’ll have to stay together.”

Game updatesGame stats

1st: GB 18-23 Tur, HT: 36-39, 3rd: 54-64

GB starters: Okereafor, Nelson, Murray, Clark, Olaseni

Russia now retain the only perfect record in Group D after 22 points from Alexey Shved led them to a 75-72 upset of Serbia.

While Latvia crushed Belgium 92-64 with Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis scoring a game-high 27 points.

EuroBasket, first round, Group D (Istanbul) Standings: 1. Russia (2-0), 2. Latvia (1-1), 3. Turkey (1-1), 4. Serbia (1-1), 5. Belgium (1-1), 6 Great Britain (0-2)

SATURDAY

Group D: Turkey 84 Great Britain 70, Latvia 92 Belgium 64, Serbia 72 Russia 75

Group A: Poland 91 Iceland 61, France 95 Greece 87, Finland 78 Slovenia 81

Group B: Germany 67 Georgia 57, Italy 78 Ukraine 66, Israel 73 Lithuania 88

Group C: Montenegro 72 Hungary 48, Spain 93 Czech Rep 56, Croatia 74 Romania 58

 

Pics: Mansoor Ahmed

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