GB ballers denied victory

31 July 2012 / 19:45

Great Britain's basketball men's team came within touching distance of an Olympic victory over Brazil but fell away at the end to lose 67-62 against the South Americans.

Like the women on Monday, Britain held a late lead - albeit narrow - but could not hold on down the stretch. The game had remained close throughout with the teams trading baskets all the way. But after Luol Deng had given Britain a one-point lead with back-to-back three-pointers four minutes from the end, Brazil went on a 7-0 spurt to make it 63-57.

Nene was called for illegal goaltending against Joel Freeland to make it 63-59 with 64 seconds to go, but Tiago Splitter's lay-up extended Brazil's advantage. Deng could only make one of three free throws to leave Britain five adrift with 30 seconds left and Marcelinho Huertas killed Britain off from the line.

Freeland had to leave the court after taking a blow from Anderson Varejao and Brazil built a quick 4-0 lead. Dan Clark entered and gave Britain a spark with six quick points and Pops Mensah-Bonsu made it 8-4. Mike Lenzly then entered the game for his Olympic debut following a calf injury and soon scored a three-pointer that increased the gap to 11-4.

But the good news soon turned bad as he went down off the ball and had to be helped off the court and likely out of the Olympics. There was more bad news for Britain when Brazil were guilty of blatant goaltending with the score 13-9, but the basket was not given.

They kept fighting and Deng turned a steal into two easy points, only to then turn the ball over himself seconds later and give Varejao free passage to the basket. Deng made it 24-19 from another steal but Brazil came back again and a careless pass from Mensah-Bonsu let Larry Taylor tie it 27-27 before the break.

The third quarter was a tight affair with neither team able to get much separation as they traded baskets and the lead. Freeland made a pair of nice reverse jump-shots and Britain could be grateful for Splitter's poor free throw shooting as the two teams remained locked together.

Brazil began to edge clear towards the end of the quarter, though, with Varejao making it 48-43 with a lay-up after Robert Archibald could only split his free throws. Varejao then made it 50-43 to start the final stanza, but Clark countered with a three-pointer and Nate Reinking made it 50-48 to lift the crowd.

Moments later Reinking swished a three to put Britain back in front but Splitter and Huertas snatched the lead right back. Splitter's free throws made it 56-51 but Deng found his shooting range with back-to-back three-pointers to put Britain on top.

But just as quickly, Splitter regained the lead and Marquinhos Sousa's three had Brazil 61-57 up. A quick Brazil break then ended with Nene dunking the ball in and drawing the foul, with the game starting to get out of Britain's reach. Reinking and Mensah-Bonsu led Britain with 13 points each while Deng had 12. Splitter poured in 21 points for Brazil.