GB basketballers find positives in narrow Olympic defeat
Luol Deng nearly inspired Great Britain to the shock of the Olympic basketball tournament as they lost by the narrowest of margins to European champions Spain.
Deng and Joel Freeland, the two NBA players in Chris Finch's line up, produced stand-out shows but the search for the first win of the tournament continues after the 79-78 defeat.
Team GB struggled to come to terms with the sheer size of the Gasol brothers – Pau and Marc – and too many early unforced errors saw Spain secure a first quarter lead that they never relinquished.
Having pegged the Spaniards back to 68-65 with three minutes remaining, 71-69 with 45 seconds left and 77-75 with 17 seconds on the clock, Team GB had the crowd on its feet roaring and willing them to their first win of the Games.
They had the better of the fourth quarter by 30-19 but a 24-15 first-quarter deficit cost them and captain Andrew Sullivan was left to take solace from what he and his colleagues had proved to themselves ahead of their next clash with Australia.
“We should be at least 2 and 1 after our three games so far, so we’re going to play the next two games the same way. We’ve just taken the second best team in the world right down to the wire," he said. "On our day we can play with these teams, we’ve just shown that.
“The first quarter made the difference and we were chasing it after that. We won’t want to have too many quarters like that one. It just made life hard for ourselves. The crowd went through every emotion we did, which is what you want. I just want us to get a win to reward them for getting behind us.
“Our first game was nothing to write home about but we’ve played our hearts out since then and this is a group of guys who will do anything to get a win.
"We had some great support, the fans were really amazing but this is two games now where we should have won.
"Going into our next game we have to be positive and cannot be satisfied with this result. We really should have won this game."