Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Great Britain v Spain - the live blog

GB post-game reaction from Torwar
Mike Lenzly: "It’s tough. We worked so hard to come back from last night’s loss to put forth a better effort and it didn’t quite come off."

Kieron Achara: "We had them right where we wanted them."

Chris Finch: "I thought we'd do it before the game. Spain aren't not playing well. I thought they were there to be had. I would have liked a better start, of course. They got us in foul trouble early. It took us a while to settle into a rhythm, But once we figured it out, I thought we controlled the game, even when we were down."

FINAL Great Britain 76 Spain 84. But what a battle. Hart 15 points and 8 rebounds. Lenzly 14. Pau Gasol had 27 and 11 and saved Spain, who led by as much as 16 in the third period. Bad news is that Betts is a major doubt for Wednesday's win-or-bust tie with Serbia with a back injury and so is Freeland. If Slovenia win against Spain (who need victory to ensure their safe passage out of Group C) in the early game, then GB will need to win by 8. Can they do it? "Of course, we can," states Drew Sullivan. That's the spirit of Obama.

1:11 Wheels coming off. Pressure telling. Navarro's three has the Spaniards jumping off their bench. 78-73. And that's 2 GB turnovers in a row.

2:25 GB time-out. Pau's long trey has put Spain up 74-73. Foul trouble now a major concern. Finch has to decide when to unleash Pops, who - along with Archibald and the seemingly done Freeland - is on four of them.

3:27 can you believe this? 73-69. A Lenzly turnover allows Rudy to break to cut it to 73-71.

5:18 Pau levels, Achara restores the GB LEAD. But then the big Scot fouls out. They're mounting up and Freeland's back has had a lot of treatment.

6:19 Lenzly three PUTS GB AHEAD 68-66. Madness. Viva Espana? Let's see.

7:31 Hart sinks a trey to make it 66-65. Spain call a time out. Blimey.

8:18 Rudy picks up a technical for a clash with Hart. Reinking makes 1/2. But then seconds later, he goes one better by suckering Rudy into a foul - makes the shot - and then sinks the bonus to make it a FOUR POINT GAME (66-62).

End 3rd Great Britain 56 (Lenzly 11) Spain 66 (Pau 18)

1:09 And Spain need a time-out. GB's guards, Messrs Hart and Reinking emerge from the wilderness with consecutive treys and it's an eight-point ball game (62-54). Inexplicably, they're playing Zorba the Greek. GB going small to end the quarter with Achara, Sulli, Boyd, Reinking and Hart.

2:22 Hart goes to the line and makes 1/2 to cut it to 60-48. Archibald is on the bench with 4 fouls. Killer. Then Hart takes one for the team at the other end. A charge that is. Freeland then gets his 4th too. 

5:13 We appear to have a bunch of British lager louts in the house. I know this because a loud chorus of 'Viva Espana' has begun.

6:51 left in the 3rd GB 39 Spain 53 The Spanish are really ragged but doing just enough to keep the gap open. That man Pau is playing like a NBA champion. Joel Freeland is playing like a first-round NBA draft pick.

HALF TIME GB 35 (Lenzly/Freeland 8) Spain 44 (Pau 13, Claver 12)
A creditable showing from GB. Also illustrating how bizarre the limited minutes of Freeland and Achara against Slovenia were. But let's not get too carried away. Spain are way below their best.  Their favourites tag might soon disappear at this rate.

3:20 The gap is briefly cut to 6 but 2 turnovers allow Spain to open up a 39-26 lead as Pops clunks 2 from the foul line. Spain still don't look sharp. Betts definitely injured. Only Clark a DNP so far.

5:57 Spain up 30-23 Fouls starting to mount up. Archibald gets a really bad call against him. Lord Rob of Dugdale calls his personal hitman. Boyd, Lenzly, Sullivan, Arch and Pops on the floor.

If you're wondering on TV why the players have yellow bathmats on their shoulders, they're actually towels in the colours of sponsors, Sinalco. And they are ugly.

7:27 Joel Freeland picks up his third foul - and gets a chorus of 'Hit the Road, Jack'. Steady on. 19-28. No choice but to uncork Pops again.

End 1st: GB 15 (Freeland 6), Spain 25 (Pau and Rudy 8)

:58 The gap is cut to single figures briefly as Archibald produces a spin move around Pau Gasol. Hart and Sullivan now into the game. Rudy hits a trey to make it 22-12 but then Joel dunks and drains the foul shot to make it 22-13.

3:00 15-5 as Kieron Achara becomes the first ever product of the Falkirk Fury development system to score in a Eurobasket finals. Fact.

3:57 Rudy enters Eurobasket. 15-4. Bad news: Pops picks up 2 quick fouls and hits the pine.

5:36  12-0 start until Pops finally breaks the duck. Achara will make his bow shortly

6:45 left in 1Q: Finch forced to take a time-out as GB trail 9-0. 3 ugly shots missed. Ominous.

2100 GB v SPAIN Starters - GB: Boyd, Reinking, George, Mensah Bonsu, Archibald.  Spain: Rubio, Navarro, Mumbru, Marc and Pau Gasol

2058 Speculation Betts isn't playing. He's not warming up and sat on the bench.
Are you ready? Live feed on www.bbc.co.uk/basketball

2051 Spain's 100-strong Armia Loca wake up, especially the trio with fuzzy Afro wigs. Their British counterparts a bit quieter. Some allegations going around that a handful have been refused entry to The Torwar, which - after the exit of the Slovenes - is half-empty.

2026 While the hunt for the Man from El Mundo continues (see 1730), the princely sum of £1 goes on GB. Garbajosa definitely a DNP-Injury tonight.

2017 T-46 mins Spain will wear white tonight. GB in blue. Don't think that's an omen. But just in case you were wondering which jersey to put on. According to the scoreboard, Espana lead 2-0. "They'd settle for that, Brian." If Motty did basketball...

My learned colleague Ian Parker has been speaking to Dan Clark.

1956 Final: Slovenia 80 Serbia 69. The Green Machine are loving it. Round 2, here they come.
Elsewhere so far today, two massive upsets: Macedonia 82 Israel 79, Germany 76 Russia 73

Spain have arrived - the cheerleaders are sitting just behind Ricky Rubio. He's like Matt Goss, Morten Harket, Duncan James and the Hollyoaks Hunks rolled into one.

1936 Fact 1:  Pops Mensah Bonsu's headphones are so big, it looks like someone glued saucers to his ears as a practical joke.
Fact 2: If Slovenia, who lead 60-44 at the end of the third, hold onto this one (and they should), Britain can qualify for the second phase with victory over Spain tonight. No problem, that one. Bizarrely, if the Spanish lose, they'd be out.
Fact 3: The pasta on tonight's menu is very nice.

1929 The GB players emerge from the tunnel to a wave of sound from the throngs of Union-flag-face-painted fans. Actually... no... that'd be the Slovenians making a racket again.

1927 The gap now 16, 56-40 with 2:10 left in the third. The Serbs haven't coped with the pressure at all - not the same side who pummelled Spain 24 hours ago. I'm convinced there is no-one left in Slovenia.


1923 Basketball 24/7's own Greg Tanner is running thAdidas NBA 5 United event in London this weekend. The 5 v 5 tournament will take place on September 12 and 13th and is open to all players over 10 years of age. For more details, and to register a team, hit up 5united.nba.com.

1918 The Slovenes are now 17 in front and set to qualify for stage 2. Messrs. Finch, Nurse, Lewis and Finch are now courtside. Wonder what they're thinking?

1857 Slovenia up 39-29 at half-time. Horn-tastic.

1844 Just been informed that BBC Radio 5 Live are broadcasting the NBA exhibition game between Chicago and Utah next month. So they ignore the BBL, do precious little on Eurobasket, but go big on a meaningless pre-season friendly? Makes no sense. Slovenes up 33-19 with 5:20 left in the half. Earplugs compulsory.

1833 Good news for GB. The Slovenes lead 22-15 after one quarter. The place is bouncing like an inflatable castle.

1815 Just discovered the short-lived Basketball365 is accredited here. Bringing you the latest.. from 2005. The Balkan grudge match is underway. There are more horns here than a reindeer farm. Honest.

The Slovenes out in force tonight again. They rock.

1730 Just read the most ill-informed article on British basketball from today's 'El Mundo'. According to it, there are only 3 accredited journalists (5 actually, plus 5 from the blogosphere). Not a single GB fan is following them with a flag (sure I spotted at least 3). And apparently, the team is pooing themselves about being embarassed in 2012. Pin that one up on the locker room wall as motivation.

1727 Some team news or Spain. Jorge Garbajosa (knee) and Rudy Fernandez seem likely to sit out tonight's game (8pm on ESPN UK and BBC Online, if you're looking).

1715 No pressure on GB tonight but ... master mathematician Lord Rob of Dugdale has worked out that if Serbia and Spain win tonight, Britain can't reach the second phase. Ouch.

1700 Some of you might have decided that having any more flutters on GB at Eurobasket is like burning money on a bonfire, then putting it through the shredder before flushing it down the lav.

Lest insanity strikes, some particularly tempting lines:

You can get odds of 750/1 on Britain beating Spain tonight.
Rather ungenerously, GB are only maxed at 250/1 to win Group C.
Finch's men are also only 599/1 to win the whole tournament (but at least, that's better than 1000/1 on Macedonia).
And it's 5500/1 for Nate Reinking to dunk the ball in traffic. While bearing a bear costume.

1645 The Poles don't hate me after all. In fact, it seems there is a consensus that the organisers haven't done enough to promote this event as a spectacle. The main reason is that all the time, effort - and money - is being spent on footy's Euro 2012, which is a shame for FIBA Europe. 

1530 It's a gloriously sunny day in Warsaw. The Old Town, I can confirm, is stunning. But it's the Torwar for me for GB against the champs. All 12 Brits fit and healthy.

But first ... doing an interview with Polish television on why I think the Eurobasket organisation is, um, imperfect. I've already had emails from supporters and decriers all day. Here we go for the interrogation.


  1. Hey Mark, really enjoying the live blogging, great way to follow what's going on. Steve

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