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GB suffer OT heartbreak in enthralling World Cup qualification opener

In Head Coach Tony Garbelotto’s first game in charge, he started with Teddy Okereafor, Luke Nelson. Ovie Soko, Dan Clark and Gareth Murray against a Greece team shorn of their top stars but packed with talent to be seen in the Basketball Champions League.

It was a game that had much back and forth for the first five minutes, leaving GB 10-7 up with 5:07 remaining in the first quarter. GB had slightly more scoring opportunities than their visitors, but it was the eeks who took the narrowest of leads after the first quarter, 17-18.

A Teddy Okereafor three got GB into a three point lead and it was more impressive when Hesson landed from beyond the arc with 5:14 remaining in the half. Head Coach Tony Garbelotto would have been pleased to see the home team’s lead extend to six points.

GB’s shooting from 3 point range was something to see, shooting seven from twelve and outside defence prevented the Greeks from making more than 27%. The presence of Bouroussis in the paint though was the key problem for GB to address. It finished 37-all at the half.

But how GB pressed in the third quarter – an outrageous behind-the-back pass from Soko found Murray in space for 3, followed straight up by Clark who needed a telescope to sight his three.

A 9-2 run had put GB in front by 5 in the early part of the third quarter. But back came Greece with a 9-0 run of their own. They would lead by a point, 55-54 at the end of the third with Bouroussis prominent.

What followed in the fourth, was scarcely believable. Greece extended the lead to 12 points and were still in front by 9 going into the final minute.

Murray finished off and joyously dunked after a Okereafor steal to close the gap and with 0.1 seconds remaining, Lawrence fed Tarik Phillip with the debutant laying up to tie the game at 83 and complete an extraordinary comeback.

Britain began overtime confidently as if energised by the possibilities. But the game was decided with 3.4 seconds remaining. Ioannis Athinalou’s three was a fatal blow which left Britain no time to recover.

Greece won it 95-92 and an occasion to rival most concluded with Britain cruelly denied. In Group H’s other game, Israel beat Estonia 88-68 and Britain next face Estonia in Tallinn on Monday.

Source: GB Basketball
Image: P.Davies

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