Turnovers prove costly for Team GB men

30 July 2012 / 00:17

Great Britain basketballers were left lamenting their long-standing problems with turnovers after losing their Olympic opener 95-75 to Russia.

Britain committed 14 turnovers in the first half alone to fall into a 49-34 deficit at the break, and although they tightened things up in the second half there was no way back against a quality Russian team who got 35 points from Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrei Kirilenko.

Britain coach Chris Finch has been preaching the importance of taking care of the ball to his players all summer, but it was the same story once again as his players let Russia score easy baskets in the first half.

"We knew exactly what our challenges were coming in to the game," Finch said. "We knew the key was to not turn the ball over against pressure, and we did not do a job, particularly in the second quarter when we gave them a run of easy baskets."

It was the second quarter where Russia broke free, with an 8-0 run giving them a 38-25 lead when Luol Deng's misplaced pass was snatched up by Alexey Shved, and his alley-oop pass was slammed home by Kirilenko.

"Turnovers killed us," said Britain's Portland Trail Blazers forward Joel Freeland. "In the half-court set we held them pretty well. Kirilenko had his back-door cutters, but that's what he does. If we minimise turnovers, the little mistakes, our errors, we'll be able to play a much more complete game."

While Kirilenko and Russia guard Shved - who finished with 16 points and 13 assists, most of which were sent Kirilenko's way - dominated the game, there were bright spots for Britain too.

Britain's own star Deng shone brightly as he poured in 26 points and Pops Mensah-Bonsu added 22, while Freeland had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Deng remained confident Britain could bounce back.

"We could have done a better job defensively and taken away some of their easy baskets, but they are a well-coached team," he said.

"We could have been more patient on offense but it was our first game, the guys were excited. This is a tournament, so we're not out. We've just got to get together and come back in the next game."