Smiles better as GB bow out
August 6, 2012 22:41 pm
Great Britain's men celebrated their first Olympic basketball win since 1948 on an emotional night that also saw coach Chris Finch confirm his intention to step down and the retirement of veterans Robert Archibald and Nate Reinking.
Great Britain won their final Group B game 90-58 against an overmatched China, getting the victory they had craved even after their dream of reaching the quarter-finals had gone with defeat to Australia two nights ago.
Finch will now depart a post he has held since the team's inception in 2006, while Archibald, 32, is retiring from the game and 38-year-old guard Reinking - one of only two players to have played for the team since the start - retired from international basketball. Drew Sullivan, who like Reinking has played from the beginning, was emotional by the end.
"It's huge," he said. "This is something we've been working for for so long. It's not just getting a win in the Olympics, but what's more important is to do it with people who are life-long friends. Sometimes a team does something special but you don't really enjoy it because you don't get along. Everyone on this team pulls for each other and to do it with these guys is amazing."
Finch, who has overseen the rise of the team from the backwaters of European basketball to the big stage of these Olympic Games, was not keen to talk about his own situation straight after the game.
"In all likelihood it is my last game, but the focus now should be on our guys at the Olympics," he said. "I told our guys we're extremely proud of the way they played, they came out with fire in their belly. It was important for our program to get a win and make a bit of history and the guys were up for the challenge."
Britain's only other Olympic win in history came the last time London hosted the Games as they beat Ireland 46-21. Britain lost their first four games of these Olympics in frustrating circumstances, either playing top teams like Spain and Brazil close before falling short, or, in the case of Saturday night, blowing a big lead over Australia with a huge second-half collapse.
"We needed the win, and the basketball public needed it," Finch added. "We had some guys playing their last game, whether it be for this programme or for their career, and they were inspirational. Our guys did a great job feeding off of one another and feeling the energy when Kieron (Achara) came into the game."
Achara was called on early in the game due to foul trouble for Luol Deng and Joel Freeland, and quickly started hitting shots on his way to 16 points.
"I was just playing in the moment," he said. "I didn't think, I just played. I got a lot of encouragement from the guys because I was the only on the team who hadn't scored. They told me they were going to be looking for me."
Copyright © Press Association Ltd. 2012, All Rights Reserved.