Great Britain remain winless at EuroBasket 2022, losing 86-65 to Croatia on Saturday.

But with a performance that at least took steps forward from their lacklustre display against Ukraine a day earlier.

With NBAers and EuroLeague stars in abundance, the Brits had no business going toe to toe with their illustrious foes.

For long spells, they did just that, much more energetic defensively at the outset and with preciser ball movement that carved open opportunities.

It was just that not enough were taken, and that was fatal, with scoring too often the exclusive preserve of Myles Hesson and Gabe Olaseni who eventually scored 18 and 10 points respectively.

Eventually, Croatia – picking up their first win behind a stoic 15 points and eight rebounds from Dario Saric – asserted themselves in the second quarter with a stretch in which GB were held without a field goal for over five minutes.

Momentum gained, and never ceded as Nate Reinking’s side slid backward. They must now look to recover on Sunday’s rest day in Milan before a daunting  clash with Group C favourites Greece early on Monday.

“We’re trying to make adjustments,” said Reinking. “It’s something we’ll keep looking at, to try and adjust and try different options.

“I felt they battled down there. It’s just one of those things like points on the point, they’d double that.. And I felt like even on the offensive end, we didn’t finish when we could have. Greece is going to be the same. Like all these games are the same. So we have to figure it out.”

A bigger line-up, in which Dan Clark replaced Ben Mockford as a starter, fell 8-2 behind but Hesson set the tone in aggressively fighting back.

Tit for tat, blow for blow, with Olaseni his running mate.

New London Lion Devon van Oostrum became the third Brit on the scoresheet when he tied the game at 17-17 late in the opening period before a Dario Saric three gave Croatia a 20-17 lead at the first break.

It started to slide away from Reinking’s side who missed makeable shots on three occasions to edge in front.

Instead came an 8-0 run from their foes early in the second amid a spell when GB missed 13 consecutive shots and went 3/18 from the field in the whole period.

All converted by Hesson, who scored seven of his side’s points in a row in a personal rebuttal that kept hope alive amid a 37-31 half-time deficit.

That was quickly extinguished by a 15-2 start to the third which extended Croatia’s advantage to 52-33 with 6:12 left in the period.  GB were struggling to crowd the paint enough to deny opportunities with Ovie Soko constantly and effectively targeted on defence.

The new Lions capture ended a barren spell of almost four minutes without a field goal in a period where his team went 3-15.

The dam then burst with Ivica Zubac a wrecking ball, going 6-6 from the field for his 15 points and 6 rebounds.

“I think we did start in the right way, with the right attitude and the right focus,” said Clark. “But again, at this level it’s not good enough.”

A 17-3 close to the third killed the contest and even with a nice cameo from Patrick Whelan, who hit two threes amid a quickfire 14 points, there was no route back as their spirit seemed to evaporate.

Next up: Greece – with Dan Clark set to become the most-capped male player in British basketball history with his 117th appearance. It will likely be even tougher with even less margin for error.

But Hesson said: “If we go the same mentality that we’ve had in the first half against Greece, and try and put that together for four quarters, we’ll give ourselves a chance to win the game.

“So that’s all we got. That’s all we have to focus on. This is a bit more internal than focusing on our team. So we make sure that we give ourselves a chance.”

Ukraine came from ten down to snatch a dramatic 74-73 win over Estonia that damaged GB’s hopes of reaching the knockout phase. While later, Greece take on Italy in the nightcap in Milan.

Game StatsUpdates


Group C standings: 1. Ukraine (2-0), 2. Croatia (1-1), 3. Italy (1-0), 4. Greece (1-0), 5. Estonia (0-2), 6. Great Britain (0-2)

GB starters: Wheatle, Nelson, Hesson, Olaseni, Clark

●        Croatia scored 35 points in the third quarter, the most for them in a single period in a EuroBasket game; this is only the fifth time that they have scored 30 or more points in a single quarter, after also doing it yesterday against Greece (also in the 3rd quarter) – before this year’s tournament, the last time they had 30+ points in a quarter was in 2007 against Portugal (33).

●      Great Britain have been defeated in their last eight games in the EuroBasket, their longest losing sequence in the competition; they have lost consecutive games by 20 or more points for the first time ever in the EuroBasket.

●      Myles Hesson (Great Britain) scored 18 points, his second most with Great Britain in a EuroBasket game (21 v Germany in 2013); he made, at least, a 3-pointer in each of his last two games, after making just one in the entire 2013 tournament.

●      Croatia’s Mario Hezonja made his first double-double in the EuroBasket (eight games), combining for 13 points and 10 rebounds; he has now grabbed 8+ rebounds in each of his last three games in the competition, after averaging 3.4 in the five previous encounters.

●      Bojan Bogdanovic player only 18 minutes, the fewest for him in a EuroBasket game ever (28 encounters); however, he still scored 15 points with three shots being made from behind the arc – he has made 3+ 3-pointers in six of his last seven games with Croatia in the competition.

Photos: Mansoor Ahmed

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