NBA veteran Ben Gordon and 24 year-old Gabe Olaseni are at different points of their careers but Saturday night saw them both make senior international debuts for Great Britain.
In GB’s second game of a mini-tournament in Coimbra, Portugal, Gordon’s game-high 17 points and Olaseni’s contribution (10 pts, 4 rebounds) were perhaps the bright points, but GB went down to a 61-78 defeat to Germany.
Head Coach Joe Prunty had signalled his intention to give game time to as many of his sixteen players as possible and his starting five reflected that desire.
Having missed Friday’s 68-72 loss to Portugal, Gordon and Olaseni were thrown into the fray straight away, with point guard Alex Young the only player to begin both games. Rob Gilchrist and Gareth Murray completed the starting five.
If the concern against Portugal had been about the start of each half, then GB needed a spark early on. Gordon’s first shot – a jumper under pressure which was only just inside the three-point arc – settled any nerves of his, though he looked unruffled for most of the game.
Britain led by a point with 5:11 remaining in the opening period, but a physical and confident Germany took a four-point advantage by the end of it.
It would be Germany Head Coach Chris Fleming’s team who took hold of the game in the second quarter. They would find the basket regularly, landing 56% from three-point range over the course of the half as a whole.
GB had their moments too with Olaseni’s physical presence at the post obvious and Achara busy in rebounding. But Germany’s lead of 12 was not unfair and Britain trailed 33-45 as they headed for the locker room.
Five early points from Gordon pushed him into double figures at the start of the second half and backed up by Murray, GB whittled down the gap to 9. But typical German efficiency in shooting from the line and three-point range meant their advantage was raised to 16 with a quarter remaining.
Germany would maintain that grip on the game in spite of repeated British efforts to close them down and their greater time together in camp and game situations told in the end.
Source: GB Basketball
Image: GB Basketball