Team GB impressive, but outclassed
Team GB‘s basketball team were outplayed, outclassed and outrun in their friendly match up with Team USA in Manchester.
Luol Deng and Pops Mensah-Bonsu tried their best to keep GB within touching distance of the Americans, but even with their NBA pedigree it wasn’t enough to trouble the high-flying exhibitionists who are Team USA, who eventually ran out winners 118-78.
There is only one player in the whole USA squad who doesn’t have NBA experience. And the only reason for that? He’s just come out of university and hasn’t had the chance to play yet.
It’s a huge contrast to GB, who have one player currently playing in the NBA, one who’s had a relatively unsuccessful spell, and one who is about to go there next season – Joel Freeland.
Freeland got a taste of what life is going to be like at the Portland Trail Blazers next season, and I’m sure he’s looking forward to it, but from this experience against the NBA’s best, he’s got a lot to learn if he’s going to become a regular court presence.
It was also a good tester to see where GB stacked up against the best in the world, but it isn’t anywhere near where they’d want to be.
USA’s athleticism was just too much for GB, and it was the last couple of minutes of each quarter which proved vital.
As Team GB tired from all the hard defence, tiring offence and endless running, USA could bring in their fresh players off the bench, who are just as good as the ones who are already on the court, and get easy open looks to stretch their lead.
A prime example is Deron Williams’ three straight 3-pointers which were all uncontested, which essentially ended any chance of a fightback.
It didn’t help that the NBA players are used to a three point line which is quite a lot longer than the ones which are used in Europe, effectively making all their 3-point attempts just normal long two’s, but it was the fast-breaks and easy points in the paint which won them the game.
Team GB is very young, inexperienced and eager to play and impress the crowd at their home Olympics, but enthusiasm isn’t going to win us a gold medal at the Olympics.
Teams like Spain and Argentina have masses of NBA pedigree, and even Russia, China and Lithuania are basketball crazy countries who’ll be desperate for a place on the podium.
Honestly, I can’t see GB getting out of the group. It’s difficult to see where GB can get a win playing against Australia, Brazil, China, Russia and Spain, but with a couple more practice games in Belgium, maybe the team can pull together and learn to play winning basketball.
The women suffered the same fate against USA as the men, although it was a much closer game, losing 88-63.
The women started very well, but some sloppy passing, and what looked like an over-awing of the whole experience, was their downfall, and they were held at arms length for the rest of the game.