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Page last updated at 22:44 GMT, Tuesday, 8 September 2009 23:44 UK

Brave GB scare world champs Spain

EUROBASKET 2009, Poland, 7-20 September
GB matches: 9 September v Serbia (2015 BST) Coverage: GB games live on Red Button and BBC Sport website (UK only)

Felipe Reyes

Highlights - Day two action at EuroBasket

By Rob Dugdale
BBC Sport at EuroBasket in Poland

Great Britain gave world champions Spain a scare before losing 84-76 in their second EuroBasket game in Warsaw.

Spain looked to be in charge until GB stormed back to take a shock 73-69 lead in the fourth quarter.

But the British team only added three more points to their total as Spain escaped to register their first win.

Jarret Hart hit 15 points and Mike Lenzly added 14 for GB who must now beat Serbia in their final group game on Wednesday to reach the second phase.

GB, without injured centre Andrew Betts, made a poor start, conceding the first 12 points of the game.

Though Spain held a comfortable lead for the whole of the first half they never threatened to completely blow GB away.

606: DEBATE

As the lead grew to 16 points in the early third quarter, coach Chris Finch called a time-out and blasted his team for their sloppy play.

"It was a shame that we had to burn a time-out at that point because I think it came back to hurt us," he revealed after the match.

"I just could tell on our guys' faces that they were losing interest. We'd just had a sloppy turnover and I thought it was time to get focused."

The lead - always comfortable from Spain's point of view - then vanished in the space of the first four minutes of the fourth quarter when Nate Reinking hit four points in a row and Hart blazed a pair of three-pointers either side of a Lenzly three and a two from Kieron Achara.

Hart's third three of the quarter made the score 73-69 and only then did Spain realise the danger they were in.

Threes from LA Lakers star Pau Gasol and Juan Carlos Navarro studded a 12-0 run that saved their blushes and kept them in the tournament.

"I thought we were going to do it - absolutely I did," said Finch.

"I thought that before the game - I don't think Spain are playing that well at the moment. They got us in foul trouble early and lived at the foul line."

Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Robert Archibald, Kieron Achara, Joel Freeland and Andrew Sullivan all needed to be benched at various stages to keep them out of foul trouble. Freeland also sat out early in the second half with a back problem.

"We worked hard but they made the tough plays at the end and you've got to give them credit for that," said Lenzly.

The much-improved GB performance will not have completely silenced the critics. A report on the website of Spanish newspaper El Mundo called GB "a team of nothing" on the morning of the game.

But the performance demonstrated the team's potential when the whole team contributes.

We got better ball movement and we gave them some good open shots - I was proud of them

GB coach Chris Finch

For once, Finch was not left wondering whether he could trust his guards - the backcourt players dominated the scoring and gave the team a structure and pace missing for most of the summer.

"I felt I let the team down last night as one of the guards," admitted Lenzly. "I just wanted to get out tonight and try and put on a better effort."

"We needed the guards to be more aggressive and they stepped up and made some big shots," said Finch. "We got better ball movement and we gave them some good open shots - I was proud of them.

"With our team we have so many different faces - we can play big or we can play small - it's just about how well we can do those things."

GB will know exactly what they have to do when they come to play Serbia on Wednesday - they have to win.

But if Slovenia beat Spain in the earlier game, Finch's team will have to win by at least eight points to qualify on the head-to-head results between Spain, Serbia and GB.

Ironically Slovenia, the team targeted by GB as beatable, are currently top of Group C and through to the second phase after using their considerable talent and experience to beat Spain's conquerors Serbia 80-69.



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see also
GB suffer loss in European opener
07 Sep 09 |  Basketball
Finch names GB EuroBasket squad
05 Sep 09 |  Basketball
Pops return strengthens GB hopes
02 Sep 09 |  Basketball
Turkey too strong for weakened GB
29 Aug 09 |  Basketball
GB 'embarrassing' in latest loss
28 Aug 09 |  Basketball
GB gift last-gasp win to Latvia
26 Aug 09 |  Basketball
Great Britain clinch Slovenia win
21 Aug 09 |  Basketball
Lithuania too strong for GB men
20 Aug 09 |  Basketball
GB suffer heavy defeat to Spain
19 Aug 09 |  Basketball
In-depth interview - Luol Deng
12 Aug 09 |  Basketball


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