Monday, 7 September 2009

GB v Slovenia: the live blog

GB head coach Chris Finch: " "Slovenia played outstandingly well tonight, particularly when they had to. The game went pretty much as we expected it to go. We thought they would come in with a big first quarter and they did that. But I was pleased with the guys. All in all I was very proud of the way we played and we took a big step forward with where we had been before we came into this tournament.

"Pops got a nice game for us. He gave us energy but you could see in the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter, where he was a little out of rhythm from the rest of the team. He did a great job to help get us back in the game. We just kind of ran out of gas. They had up to a 15-point lead but it wasn't a 15-point game. If we can put 40 minutes together we can beat anyone.

"It doesn't get any easier but we knew the schedule and it hasn't changed. We have to stay committed to what we try to do and we did it for about 35 minutes and tomorrow we will have to do it for 40 to have a chance of winning. You can see that our team can compete in every level and at every moment.

Pops finished with a game-high 18 and 6. Archibald with 12 and 5. Glaringly Joel Freeland only played 4:56. He'll get more PT against the Spanish. And clearly Finch needs more from his guards who were really poor defensively too many times. Tuesday now a must-win. "We have to see it as a fresh opportunity," Archibald admitted.

GB skipper Drew Sullivan: "Not the start we were looking for, but the lads played well. GB has alot to be proud of even in defeat."

As an aside, we just had the lamest opening ceremony - ever. Four cheerleaders with signs of the names of the teams. The Polish national anthem. And a dull speech from Fiba Europe supremo Nar Zanolin. Spain v Serbia up next. Pau Gasol is back playing. Gulp.It just gets worse for GB. 

See you tomorrow.

1950 Final Great Britain 59-72 Slovenia. Reaction to come.

1948 Not going to happen now. Poor fourth quarter from Finch's men. Horrible. Goodbye to that tenner.

1941 With 5 minutes left, GB are falling apart at both ends of the floor. Desperately disappointing fourth quarter as they trail 52-67.

1937 52-65 now. GB simply too soft as the pressure gets turned up. It's now or never to make a run with 6:35 left. Finch has seen enough. Time out after a 8-0 run that brings the biggest lead of the game so far. Kieron Achara is screaming encouragement from the bench. He might end up with 0 minutes but 10/10 for effort from the Scot.

1931 A weird mix of cheering and booing as Spain pitch up courtside. I think the booing was from two Minnesota Timberwolves fans up the back. Ricky! Ricky!

"The tension is unbearable" - Rob 'Quivering Jelly' Dugdale

1930 Great Britain 47-51 Slovenia, end 3rd quarter.  It's still game on, as the lovely GB marketing people would say. Pops has had his rest. Time to uncork the birthday boy. Pops has a game-high 13 points.

1922 Time out GB. They trail 47-40. Reinking's radar is way off, as it has been all summer. Back comes Betts for Pops. The Slovenian fans are impersonating pogo sticks again. Boinggggg!!!

1918 Zdovc going nuts at his team. Even though they're up 44-38. The man's never happy. Too many breakdowns from GB and open jumpers from the Slovenes.

1913 Here we go again. Reinking, Boyd, Sullivan, Pops and Arch starting the second half

1856 Half-time: Great Britain 35-37 Slovenia A late flurry from Slovenia puts them back in front. Jure Zdovc, the Slovene coach, is wearing jeans and his team suddenly look just as scruffy. Pops with 11 points and Archibald with 10 have been the saviours so far. A lot of work still to do for GB. Time to go get a molotov cocktail.

1849 GB LEAD! Freeland shows us a NBA move, backs in, and it's 34-33 with a foul shot to come. And they're playing Miami Sound Machine for the cheerleaders. Does it get any better? Let's hope so.

"BBL venue? BBL refs..." - 24/7's HH.

1845 Joel Freeland makes his bow. 5 seconds later, he scores, draws a foul, converts and suddenly, we have a tied ball game at 29-29. For a second there, I thought I heard noise from the GB section.

1840 Game back on. Archibald hits an unlikely three with the shot clock on 1. And then Pops fizzles. 26-27 with 7:32 left in the half.

"It's like some BBL gym"- Basketball 24/7 Greg Tanner, watching on TV. The closest comparison: Braehead.
17:27 Feel free to Tweet back @markbritball

1831 GB 15-27  Slovenia End 1Q. The worst fears realised with Slovenia's guards towering over GB's vertically challenged exterior defence. It's going to be a tough comeback to protect my tenner (plus 10 zloty sweepstake) investment. Starting Sullivan over Pops looks all the more baffling.

"Welcome to the top table" - my learned BBC colleague, Rob Dugdale.

1825 Time out GB. A horrible start. 18-7 down with 3:33 left in the quarter. Someone mention the words 'perimeter defence'?

1823 Britain 14-7 down. Struggling on the perimeter as we feared. But the mascot's just walked passed. Vaguely resembles a mal-formed reindeer. Is he from the North Pole? Geddit? Here comes Pops.

1815 We've just had the national anthems. Britain soundly out-sung in the singalongafans stakes, I'm afraid. Finch's Barmy Army (better suggested names welcome) tucked away in a small corner to my right. Bless all 127 of them.

The live video in the UK, if you're looking for it, is here on the BBC site. screening it in the USA.

The starting five for GB is Betts, Archibald, Sullivan, Lenzly and Reinking. Got that prediction wrong.
Here we go...

1756 The Eurobasket 'anthem', named 'Stand Up' is playing. It's absolutely brilliant, a sure fire number one. Actually, that's a lie. As you'd expect, it's utterly rank. Nails for the ears. A better choice would be 'Happy Birthday' for Pops Mensah Bonsu who is celebrating today. However the GB warm-up at the moment is almost in time to the music which looks rather woeful.

In a spirit of optimism, I've just stuck £10 on GB at the generous odds of 13/2. If you want a flutter on the Slovenes, they're 1/14 ON. Not much worth it.

1740 The Torwar Arena is a compact 5000 seater building, refurbished in the inside but - like much of Warsaw - hideous from the exterior. Great Britain have been through their warm-ups, everyone present and correct.

However, as predicted, the lack of security at the main team hotel has proved a nightmare with British Basketball officials complaining about the ease with which the multitude of Slovenian supporters were able to mill about the lobby, asking for autographs, before the side's departure here. And there are A LOT of Slovenians fans.

One team note, which is good for GB - is that Smodis will likely play only restricted minutes due to a back injury.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Sir,
    I'm afraid your made a mistake. The grand opening ceremony took place in Wroclaw. With all the fireworks and speeches. Don't expect every city to organize it's own ceremony!
    Also, please remember that the whole city is now preparing to Euro2012 which is not only consuming promotion budget but also making Warsaw less attractive due to intense renovation. That is why Polish Basketball Association took the main effort to promote Quarter/Semi and Finals in Katowice, and Qualification Round in Lodz and Bydgoszcz. Hopefully, with better results.
    I hope you'll find further games and other cities more exciting. Good luck to Great Britain!
    Polish Fan.