GRAY LINE: IN THE BOX

Niall Gray’s latest blog on GB’s Eurobasket campaign looks at the Deng factor, TV commentaries and Archibald’s five seconds of madness.

Nice to see history in the making and for all my friends who are out there and have been moaning about the conditions in ‘tent city’ — at least you got to see some history on Sunday afternoon and can forever say ‘I was there’.

That’ll cheer you up before you head back to your freezing tents and for once you can have the noisy party all night long!

Normally, I write a little bit about the game in a semi-match report style, but as GB actually won a game you’ll probably have seen a lot of match reports by now. So I’ll just talk about a few topics.

Firstly, although you have to credit all the team for their part in this win, a large part of it has to go to Luol Deng (although he’ll not want that praise, being the team player he is).

His double-double against Portugal (31 points, 10 points) was a joy to watch at both ends of the floor.

After making so many big plays in the first half on his way to 21 points, Deng was quiet in the third quarter. So much so, I forgot he was on the court!

But in the fourth quarter, as Portugal mounted a late charge, it was Deng who stepped up and put the seal on the win.

Nice one, Mr Deng, any chance of a repeat performance against Poland, please?

It was also good to see Rob Archibald back playing again although I bet a few GB fans were thinking otherwise when he had his five seconds of madness at the end of the first quarter.

After first making a long full-court pass to no-one in particular, Archibald then compounded matters by fouling a three-point shooter. The first quarter could have ended with a five or six-point lead to GB, but finished with the scores tied.

I’d love to know what Coach Chris Finch said to him in the break!

Finally, a little about the game commentaries.

I decided early on in the tournament to follow the BBC coverage and have enjoyed it so far with Ronald McIntosh and Martin Henlan making a decent commentary team.

It’s a shame that one of my favourite basketball commentators, Dan Routledge is not doing any commentaries during this Eurobasket, but McIntosh and Henlan are good enough replacements.

Star of the show is colour commentator Martin ‘mixed metaphor’ Henlan who offers such broadcasting gems as “swarming all over them like a cold virus on defence”.

His best comment from the game came after Portugal’s Carlos Andrade had made a long (and very difficult) three-point shot.

To sum up just how difficult that shot was, Henlan came out with: “He can shoot that shot 50 times and he’s going to miss 51 of them … my maths is that bad.”

It might be, Martin, but you’re doing a great job!

Poland is the last game, so if you’ve yet to follow the ‘Henlan-Tosh’ commentaries (which is an amalgamation of their names, not a personal opinion!), I urge you to tune in Monday before it’s too late.

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