Great Britain lost 82-60 to France in their opening game of the Olympic test event in London as NBA All Star Tony Parker took centre stage.

The San Antonio Spurs guard had 23 points as the French pulled clear late in the second quarter before holding off a late fightback from the hosts, who now meet Croatia on Wednesday.

The six-team tournament is a valuable rehearsal for both the London 2012 organisers and for GB coach Chris Finch as he prepares for this month’s EuroBasket finals in Lithuania and there were positive signs as his team went 24-20 in front.

However France, with five current NBA players in their ranks, swept ahead for good with a 12-3 run which pushed them 34-29 clear at half-time. Their cushion grew to 60-48 with ten minutes remaining and although Joel Freeland –who had a team-best 16 points – inspired a 6-0 burst that brought Britain within reach, a late 16-2 flurry saw the visitors to victory.

Nate Reinking had 11 points for GB (MAP Photos/BB)

“I thought the first half was a lot better than the second but there’s certainly good things to take from tonight and we’re coming together well,” said GB forward Dan Clark.

“The younger players are learning how to fit in with the team and having Joel back helped as we know how he plays.  We need to get better, there’s still things to work on but it’s early.”

The tie was played in front of around 3000 fans, well short of the capacity the venue will have next year.

“It’s pretty impressive,” said GB captain Drew Sullivan “It’s a great shame it’s temporary. The atmosphere was really good. I’m looking forward to next year when we will hopefully have 12,000 people here supporting us.”

Meanwhile, the absence of Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng, who has frustrated British Basketball officials by opting to postpone his arrival until the weekend, has come under fire from Patrick Baumann, the chief of governing body FIBA.

“As a basketball fan, I cannot understand why, when there is no technical or insurance reason stopping him, why a player doesn’t have the motivation to play for his national team,” he said, speaking to the BBC.

“I don’t understand it at all.”


Croatia 83 Serbia 71 (Box Score)

Against their great rivals, Croatia stepped up to defeat Serbia 83-71 in an impressive start to the Olympic Test tournament in London.

Krunoslav Simon had 17 points as the Croats controlled the game in the second half after building a 44-36 lead at half-time.

And despite a game-best haul of 18 from Milos Teodosic, the 2010 world championship semi-finallists could not bounce back.

Australia 71 China 43 (Box Score)

China scored the first points in the 2012 Olympic Basketball Arena. Australia, however, got the first win, using a strong second quarter as a platform to eventually secure a 71-43 victory.

After a tight opening spell, the Boomers were able to leave NBA guard Patrick Mills on the bench as they surged clear to build a 32-19 half-time advantage.

And with China struggling, they opened up a 52-32 lead with ten minutes left which proved ample breathing space with Peter Crawford hitting a game-high 15 points. Bo Zhang paced China with 13.

Tuesday schedule

Australia v China (3.30), Serbia v Croatia (6pm), Great Britain v France (8.30)
Here’s a players-eye view of the Basketball Arena.

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