Battling Great Britain sunk by Euro hosts Lithuania

By Rob DugdaleBBC Sport in Lithuania

Great Britain began their Eurobasket campaign with an 80-69 defeat to hosts Lithuania in Panevezys.

In front of a crowd of 7,000, GB gained the respect of their hosts with a resilient performance that threatened an upset in the third quarter.

Luol Deng scored 25 points for GB and Dan Clark added 15 in his best performance of the summer.

After slipping behind, Lithuania proved too strong and experienced for GB, closing out the game with a 20-6 run.

Coach Chris Finch's team started the game with confident threes from Deng and Reinking and held a 16-10 lead before a Ksistof Lavrinovic three-pointer at the end of the first quarter gave the hosts the lead.

Lavrinovic hit two more in the second quarter as Lithuania began to hit their stride, opening a 10-point lead. GB's frustration in the second quarter boiled over into a technical foul for Finch, but the players showed little sign of losing their cool.

But the third quarter was all GB - they held Lithuania scoreless for almost six minutes after Songaila opened the scoring and Deng, Freeland and Clark combined for a 10-0 run. The lead came on the last minute of the third quarter as the hard-working Freeland swooped to the basket.

Down 57-54 at the end of the third quarter, Lithuania took back the lead immediately at the start of the fourth and when Simas Jasaitis hit a three with 6:27 left to play, Lithuania took a lead that they never lost.

GB scored only two pairs of Deng free throws in the next five and a half minutes while Lithuania buried four three-pointers to put the result beyond doubt.

Finch was happy with the way his players had rebounded from the weekend's disappointing display against Latvia in their final warm-up game.

"We just throw that game out and consider it an aberration," he said. "Tonight was more like we've been playing. We wanted to be still in there in the fourth quarter and we were there in the fourth quarter.

"I think at times tonight we stood around and watched Luol play a little too much. In the third quarter we were okay and then in the fourth quarter we got tired and took some tough shots as a result."

With only three of the six teams in Group A able to advance to the second phase in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, wins are at a premium in a group that also contains European champions Spain and Turkey, who both won their opening games.

"Turkey are a similar team and they've got a lot of size as well," Finch added. "We need a good bench performance tomorrow and we've got to finish a little better."

Spain spilled a 17-point advantage to Poland before winning 83-78 with LA Lakers star Pau Gasol scoring 29 points, while Turkey's easy 79-56 win over Portugal came as a result of a crisp, well-drilled team performance that GB will need to stop if they are to win Thursday's second game.

Watch GB v Turkey on Thursday 1 September live on the BBC Red Button and from 1545 BST.