Great Britain’s somewhat bizarre behind-closed-doors game against the Netherlands recently – their first game back in this country after practice games in Portugal and Slovenia.

One of those rare exceptions in a genre of games that seems to be a feature of basketball and very few other sports.

It was one of those behind closed doors games that journalists actually get permission to watch. Coaches probably don’t like this variation on the theme, and their reservations might be justified.

In case you weren’t there (and face it, most of you shouldn’t have been anyway because that what behind closed doors is all about), you missed a bizarre, rollercoaster of a game.

Joe Prunty’s men made a decent start and led 16-11 after four and a half minutes. They then scored only eight points in the next 15 and a half minutes (only TWO in the whole of the second quarter) while the Dutch torched them for 45.

56-24 at the half and obviously that’s the game lost right there. Well, no, because GB opened the second half with a 16-2 burst and with 10 minutes to go, The Dutch were nervously protecting a lead of 16 points, half what it had been 10 minutes previously.

If these score swings had been mood swings, GB v Netherlands Game One would definitely have ended up behind closed doors but the reasons and indeed the doors would have been somewhat different.

But as nervous journalists sat up from the self-contented, this one’s written, reclining position they had assumed at half-time, brushing the crisp crumbs off their chests and facing the inconvenience of the most improbable rewrite in basketball history, the Dutch set about saving their faces.

GB got as close as seven points (64-73) with three minutes remaining, but an act of hoops larceny equivalent to the Hatton Garden bank vault blag those pensioners pulled off was averted when the next three trips down the floor came up without a score.

Still, at least GB escaped the hall with their reputations largely intact and without the crowd having walked out in disgust to watch the speedway fixture that was going on (somewhat noisily) next door. There was plenty to discuss afterwards, that’s for sure.

Like how it got a bit testy in the fourth quarter for example, with Dutch coach Toon van Helfteren berating the officials after his foward Arvin Slagter, who did as much anyone to save Dutch blushes, was called for a travel that looked a lot like he deserved a foul called in his favour.

“This is dangerous,” Van Helfteren told the officials. Then he repeated it three more times for effect. He had a point. When a team is trying to save face and there isn’t a large crowd and maybe a television audience looking over their shoulders, maybe they get a little, um, bolder?

Maybe the behind-closed-doors genre is some sort of Twilight Zone because BCD games can harbour some bizarre moments for the fortunate, or in some cases, unfortunate, voyeur.

I’m no expert here but if some of the BCD games I’ve been privileged to view are anything to go by, I feel a genuine temptation to start breaking into national team offices, bribing game video staff or even haunting random car boot sales in the hope of getting tapes/disks/memory sticks of what happens in these encounters.

If you want to give that a try, you’re looking for anything with “Behind Closed Doors friendly” on the label. FYI: That last word may be misleading under trade descriptions legislation, because some of them are not pre-watershed stuff at all.

Exhibit A would be England v Bulgaria at a deserted National Exhibition Centre in February, 2000, a BCD game in the heart of the Midlands that went south quite badly.

England were preparing for a n upcoming Eurobasket qualifier against Croatia and Bulgaria were on their way to Iceland or somewhere for the same reason.

In the first half, the 35 free throws the teams took seemed a little excessive for a friendly, but that was nothing compared to the second half, when 46 (yes, really, two a minute) shots were taken from the charity stripe.

The sides may even have accidentally invented walking basketball in the last seven minutes as they traipsed from foul line to foul line to take yet another pair of free throws.

When they weren’t squaring up to each other, that is. All those free throws were awarded for a reason. The two sides had taken a disliking to each other in the first half and it came to head in the second half when Kojo Mensah-Bonsu and a much larger Bulgarian grappled for a held ball.

Far from waiting for the officials to blow the whistle for a jump ball, the visiting player swung Pops’ little brother half over his shoulder and smashed him, back first, to the court. Cue both sides off the benches and keen to get in on the Greco-Roman action.

Once they had been pulled apart, the two teams were resolutely over-physical, far too talkative and at times just plain brutal with each other for the remainder of the game. After yet another hard foul on one of his teammates, Steve Bucknall’s words, uttered from the bench, are etched on my mind.

“Somebody’s gotta body-slam that mother***er”.

Luckily no one did, or England wouldn’t have had completed a good performance, especially on the defensive end, with a win.

They also may have set some sort of record by hitting all of their last 19 free throws to win by eight points.

Then again, they’d had 28 shots at the hoop before that. Practice really does make perfect, kids.

The two teams produced another (this time well under control) physical game of basketball – and another England win – in the second game 24 hour later.

This came after a nervous night for team officials who had to keep a watch on their players because they were booked into the same hotel, thankfully on different floors. I was on the Bulgarians’ floor, hoping they didn’t remember me.

On to Exhibit B and  did you know that Luol Deng’s 2007 Great Britain debut came in a BHD game? And that it was in the French town of Pau? And that there was a fight in that one too?

Originally, this one had been designated a full-on international, the first of two on consecutive nights, between Chris Finch’s GB and Georgia, the former Soviet state, with Canadian Ken Shields coaching them.

Shields’ predecessor, Gordon Herbert had also been coaching the local team, Pau-Orthez, when the Georgia training camp and back-to-back internationals had been set up. Since then, Pau and Herbert had parted ways and the games had been downgraded to BCD to save costs. There are, in fact, no official stats from either game.

The attention had been elsewhere as Luol’s debut took shape, emerging from a slow start to get the scoreboard ticking over on his way to 19 points on debut.

That focus changed with 7:52 of the fourth quarter remaining. GB’s Eric Boateng was called for an offensive foul under the Georgian basket and Zaza Pachulia, himself an NBA player, took exception to what he saw as Boateng’s clumsiness.

The players’ walk down court barely reached the foul line before Pachulia clipped Boateng across the back of the head – and not playfully. Eric launched himself at Pachulia and suddenly the game was in brawl territory.

Amidst all this, GB coach Chris Finch made a point to the officials, who had struggled with the size of the task, raising questions of how experienced they were at this level.

“You have to be careful,” said Finch, to one of the officials, “because there are a lot of very high-value, expensive players out there.”

He didn’t rant about it, just made the point in a very rational, advisory way. This, from a man who had famously once been ejected from a play-off semi-final with two technicals in the space of less than 30 seconds, was a sign that GB’s coach had changed as his career had developed outside the UK.

Shields told me later, when he had moved on to assistant-coach with GB’s women’s team, that the clip round the ear was something of a signature move for Pachulia, and one that invariably got him in trouble.

Shields said he once saw the clip coming a mile off in a game against Belarus and had charged on to the court to drag Pachulia off and prevent things getting seriously out of hand.

So do players respond differently when there is no crowd to give them feedback on their efforts? Would it be better if all non-competitive games were played on a BCD basis? Did 1970s country singer Charlie Rich have the right idea when he sang “no one knows/what goes on behind closed doors”?

Personally, I lean slightly towards a yes in the first question. I’ve only seen a handful of closed door encounters even now, but things have happened in enough of the ones I’ve seen to  make me want to watch as many as I can. So the answer to the second question is a definite no.

I have no evidence that Rich ever watched basketball, so the third question is totally irrelevant.

Maybe it’s just the rawness of what is, in effect, a practice scrimmage against total strangers. For a coach, it allows a team to develop without the extra critique of the paying public being thrown into the equation.

Costs of arena support, ticketing and the like also come into it as well. You can see the attraction of a BCD game or two to a hard-pressed national programme like current-day GB (or turn-of-the-Century England, under the mercurial Laszlo Nemeth, for that matter)

As a concept, though, it’s frustrating for us journos and the fans, because it means one less game for us to watch and one which, infuriatingly, is going on right under our noses,. And those players will have to play in front of a crowd sometime, so better sooner than later, goes the logic.

I’m not saying BCD games should be banned, but wouldn’t it be good if they could somehow get the game behind closed doors, but at the same time make sure that members of the public who fancied seeing it could get to watch it?

Maybe allow people in before they close the doors?

Yeah I know. Kind of defeating the object, really. And you just know nothing noteworthy or wild would happen.

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