Great Britain threatened, but lost 84-67 to Turkey in Istanbul.

Now 1-1 in their FIBA World Cup qualifying from the opening window. Not a bad place to be at all.

But having taken a huge swing at their hosts in the opening 15 minutes when surging into an advantage of 13, the punching in reply was relentless and it proved too much as GB were knocked to the floor by combinations from left and right in the second half.

“They deserved the win,” said GB head coach Marc Steutel.

“They played well for the majority of the game and dictated a lot of elements. I though they executed offensively against out ball screen coverage well in the first half and made some adjustments in the second half when we tried to react. To what they were doing. I felt they continued to hurt us.”

He added: “I’m proud of the effort from my guys. We tried to do a lot of things well, bearing mind our game plan. It just felt like it was one of those nights that unfortunately the game ran away from us which we’re not too pleased about.”

GB initially oozed the confidence acquired from Thursday’s upset of Greece, with Teddy Okereafor picking up where he left off in Newcastle and Cheshire team-mate Ben Mockford downing a three in a solid opening.

A 7-2 run proved a mere taster for a sensational spell for the visitors, one which turned into 11 unanswered points – capped by a breakaway dunk from Dwayne Lautier Ogunleye – to open up a 23-10 advantage with 2:44 left in the 1st.

Heady stuff, especially with the Turks – following an upset loss in Belarus – bringing in two significant upgrades, with naturalised American Shane Larkin and Melih Mahmutoglu.

Both, however, would underline the threat they pose.

A 6-0 close to the first quarter cut the home deficit to 23-16 and it was followed by nine further without reply to begin the second as GB were ultimately held without a field goal for almost seven minutes.

To and fro though. Ashley Hamilton hit a three to reclaim lead for GB at 28-27 and end the drought with the balance underlined when a deadlock at 37-37 ensured at half-time.

GB’s starters were +26 on +/-. More help required, especially with Luke Nelson absent through injury.

Yet Turkey would never trail following the interval and a 7-0 run extended their lead to 49-41 with 5:47 left in 3rd and Steutel forced into a timeout, the hosts starting to dominate in the paint and fortified by 26 points off their bench.

Larkin, all class, started to exert control game as his group speedily pulled 14 clear.

Creditably, GB did not flinch. Tarik Phillip, promoted into the starting line-up, hit successive threes which were supplemented by a cut to the basket from Dan Clark – who paced GB with 17 points – in a mini-run that made it 60-54 headed into the fourth.

Cue a wall of noise at the Sinan Erdem Arena, as rabid and intimidating a venue as is available in European basketball.

However they celebrated a three from Sehmus Hazer amid an 8-2 start that saw GB miss five straight field goal attempts before Phillip struck again.

Metecan Birsen’s long-range conversion piled on more pressure but it was Larkin who bolted the door shut.

He scored ten straight towards his game-high haul of 22 points to cap a 21-6 burst which saw Turkey’s lead over GB peak at 79-60 with 2:56 left.

A class act, a class side, no disgrace for Steutel’s men despite the heady moments when they had wondered if a momentous shock was on.

“They were able to control the game in the second half especially,” said Clark. “With the experience on the court and the basketball IQ they have, they were able to take the game where they wanted to be.

“We were chasing the game at the end and it became difficult for us. But I’m proud of the guys.”

Gabe Olaseni added 15 points and nine rebounds with Phillip contributing 14 points but GB made just 23-60 from the field.

Elsewhere in Group B, Greece defeated Belarus 77-67 to bounce back from their loss to GB..

Game StatsUpdates


Great Britain’s starters:  Okereafor, Phillip, Mockford, Clark, Olaseni.

Group B standings: 1. Belarus (1-1), 2. Turkey (1-1), 3. Greece (1-1),  4. Great Britain (1-1)

Photo: FIBA


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