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Page last updated at 18:45 GMT, Wednesday, 26 August 2009 19:45 UK

GB gift last-gasp win to Latvia

By Rob Dugdale

Nick George
George scored 17 points in GB's defeat to Latvia

Great Britain lost the opening game of the Efes Pilsen tournament in Ankara in bizarre fashion 86-84 to Latvia.

With 12 seconds left, GB seemed to have weathered the storm as Latvia failed to punish GB's repeated failures to score.

But after Kristaps Valters levelled the game 84-84 with a three-pointer, GB gave the ball away and allowed Kristaps Janicenoks to score the winning basket.

Nick George and Robert Archibald hit 17 points each for GB and Andy Betts added 16 as GB found their scoring touch.

"We had it won several times," said GB coach Chris Finch. "I'll take the responsibility - down the stretch you've got to give the guys a better play to win it and get a better shot off."

After six games in an arduous eight days in London and Seville, the team had clearly benefited from three days on the practice court.

The third quarter was key and obviously we knew they would respond. We let a very good team get back into it

GB coach Chris Finch

The break also allowed Archibald and Freeland to heal the niggling injuries that had plagued them in Seville, although guard Flinder Boyd was still out with his injured ankle.

The assurance of Archibald and Lenzly propelled GB to an early 15-10 lead. A Nick George three-pointer had GB 28-21 ahead at the end of the first quarter.

That became 37-24 at the start of the second quarter as Nate Reinking splashed a pair of threes and George added another.

With Betts playing solidly in the middle, GB were good value for their 52-40 half-time lead, but that was forgotten within five and a half minutes of the second half starting as Latvia's Kaspars Kambala hit 13 points in a 15-2 run to give Latvia the lead.

GB scored only four points in nine minutes before responding with a three-point play from George and a three from Jermaine Forbes to tie the game 64-64 after three quarters.

606: DEBATE

Threes from Reinking and George had Britain 82-76 with three and a half minutes left but with Kambala back on court, Latvia hit the next five points.

Mike Lenzly's two free throws with 12 seconds left set up a thrilling finish when Valters scored his three with five seconds remaining.

GB then made a mess of their last chance to win the game in regulation time when Archibald turned the ball over and presented Latvia with the win.

"We lost our aggressiveness a little bit," said Finch. "The third quarter was key and obviously we knew they would respond. We let a very good team get back into it.

"But I thought we played a lot better in the sense that we dictated a lot of the game tonight."

GB will face Macedonia in their second group match on Friday in Turkey's six-team annual tournament.



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see also
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Lithuania too strong for GB men
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Wayward GB suffer third reverse
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Tough Turkey hand GB second loss
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Weakened GB suffer opening defeat
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In-depth interview - Luol Deng
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GB without star NBA duo for Euros
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