Great Britain were defeated 78-74 by Spain on Monday night in a friendly in Valladolid to leave Chris Finch’s men still chasing their first win in their build-up to the Olympics after seven attempts.

However GB, sparked by a team-high 15 points from Joel Freeland and an industrious show from Dan Clark, delivered a spirited display against the EuroBasket champions, coming back from an early 21-7 deficit to lead in the fourth quarter before their hosts made a decisive charge.

Defensively, Finch’s side were much improved from when these two teams last met in Lithuania 11 months ago. Only in the middle were the visitors out-matched, allowing the Spaniards to repeatedly muscled their way past with too much ease.

Again, just as against France three days earlier, there were positive signs for Britain with the manner in which they competed against a team that will have a medal shot in London.

But ultimately another defeat.

“We’ve played well against a lot of good teams so far,” said Clark. “All that’s missing now is a win.”

Eight unanswered points to close the opening period ignited the guests and the momentum remained into the second with aggressive offense from Andrew Lawrence and Mike Lenzly’s third three-pointer putting GB up 26-23 with 6:09 left until half-time.

Spain, predictably, responded with a 9-0 burst finished off by an alley-oop from Sergio Lliul and pushed onwards to a 38-32 half-time lead.

GB were emboldened. Freeland kick-started a 7-0 flurry. Pau Gasol sparked a retort. The hosts were receiving as good as they dished out.

They went 56-48 as the third neared its close. Another GB charge. Clark cut the gap to one but then Victor Claver hit a three from the corner to give the Spanish a 59-55 cushion as the fourth began.

Six straight points were enough to push GB in front with 8:42 left but it was their last lead.

Serge Ibaka, returning from a post-NBA Finals break, imposed himself and a 7-0 run, with Pau Gasol on the bench, sparked the hosts into a critical advance.

Felipe Reyes extended the home advantage to 71-64 with four minutes left and although Lenzly took his tally to 13 with a three that gave GB some late hope with 13 seconds left, Pau Gasol – with a game-high 16 points and 10 rebounds – polished off the with a solitary free throw.

Marc Gasol added 15 points for Spain, who were without the injured Juan Carlos Navarro and Rudy Fernandez.

Britain will now look to break their duck against Portugal in Sheffield on Saturday.

“We’re still quite a young team,” Clark added. “There is room for improvement.”

Game stats

Pic: Map/BB

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