Britain beat China for first victory of test event

London International Basketball Invitational (Olympic test event)

Venue:
Basketball Arena, Olympic Park, London
Date:
16-21 August
Teams:
Australia, China, Croatia, France, Great Britain, Serbia
Match times:
1500 BST, 1800 and 2030
Coverage:
Watch GB v China (1800 BST, Saturday 20 August) and GB v Australia (1800 BST, Sunday 21 August) on the BBC Red Button
Luol Deng

Great Britain recorded their first win of the Olympic test event at the fifth attempt, beating China 64-56 at the Olympic Park in London.

The home side found success close to the basket to go 32-26 up at half-time.

With NBA star Luol Deng making his debut appearance in the tournament, GB pressed ahead in a tight fourth quarter to grab victory.

Deng told BBC Sport: "It's my first game since the end of the NBA season. I'm trying to get back in rhythm."

Chicago Bulls' Deng, who scored 15 points in the win, missed Britain's first three games as he was at his basketball camp for children in Loughborough.

He said: "I've been committed to this programme [GB Basketball] since day one. My kids really wanted me at the camp and I really care about making basketball better in this country.

"I enjoyed my time with them. My team-mates understand, my coaches understand."

Whilst Deng was expected to steal the headlines in what was his first game in a GB jersey this Summer, it was Joel Freeland who was voted most valuable player.

Freeland was GB's leading scorer with 18 points, while Jianlian Yi scored 20 for China.

Despite missing captain Drew Sullivan through injury, GB showed a marked improvement in their defensive play to thwart China's movement on the ball.

In his most impressive performance of the test event so far, Freeland registered Britain's first points on the scoreboard when he spun expertly to hit a scoop shot in the opening minute.

Solid defensive play by GB kept China at bay in the second, but the squad had trouble scoring and held a slim 32-26 lead at the interval.

China stepped up the intensity in the following quarter as they went on a 10-3 run to put themselves within one point of their rivals, 46-45 at the whistle.

In a hotly-contested final stanza, Freeland netted an offensive rebound to give his team a four-point cushion late-on, which he followed up with two from the line to put GB 59-53 up and end China's hopes of a comeback.

Head coach Chris Finch said: "I just told our guys that they won a very tough game. The key was that we didn't give it away."

Freeland added: "It wasn't pretty but I think we showed a lot of composure - especially in the final minutes."

Watch GB's final game against Australia on Sunday on the BBC Red Button from 1800 BST.

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