Great Britain fly the flag high and proud


They may not have punched their ticket for the second phase, but there is still a buzz around the heroic performances of Great Britain at EuroBasket 2013 in Slovenia.

Depleted by the absence of headline trio Luol Deng, Joel Freeland and Pops Mensah-Bonsu, any other nation may have went into meltdown at the loss of such stellar talent. And, especially with a rookie head coach at the helm, heading into a first major tournament on the international scene.

But, the appointment of Joe Prunty has since proven to be an astute one. The play-caller masterminded two famous EuroBasket wins over Israel and Germany, with his players showing there is perhaps more strength in depth to British Basketball than many had thought.

Their opening day win over Israel typified the resolve and focus of those players who had to step up. Down by nine in the last quarter, it looked like a defeat was inevitable. But, the team pulled out a fantastic late run and made headlines all over Europe by taking down their stunned opponents in overtime.

In other basketball obsessed countries such as Serbia for example, the secondary headlines after the performances of their own national team, were about the valiant Brits making a splash without their biggest stars on board.

It was deserved wider recognition of the hard work, organisation and team-play which epitomised a fantastic and stirring performance that had passion running through its’ veins.

It was always going to be tough to follow it up with a success against one of the tournament favourites in France. Especially since they had been bitten and left wounded after unexpectedly losing their first game.

Great Britain had to endure something of an inevitable a backlash from Les Bleues, but it was another spirited display against a team who did have their NBA stars, including the irrepressible Tony Parker.

Next up, Great Britain pushed Belgium all the way and were just edged out. It was perhaps the defining game of the tournament in some ways.

A late run by the Belgian Lions denied the brave British Lions what would have been a huge success. But, despite the disappointment of being squeezed out, simply by playing the way they did, it underlined that the victory against Israel was no fluke.

And, anybody still in doubt about this notion simply had to believe that Great Britain basketball is alive and kicking when the team then racked up a simply brilliant win over Germany.

It set up a mouth-watering last day showdown with Ukraine and whilst Great Britain just fell short, they were able to leave Ljubljana with their heads held high.

For they posted a campaign which was a considerable over-achievement against pre-tournament expectation.

In terms of personnel, Dan Clark got himself fit and showed how much he cares for his country and just what it means by being a real leader. BBL and Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders standout Drew Sullivan and former Glasgow Rocks forward Kieron Achara were also like gladiators and especially defensively.

Then, there was the very special continued development of Myles Hesson with the former BBL star producing some absolutely terrific displays.

There was also court-time for BBL veteran Gareth Murray, who might not have played huge minutes, but gained the trust of the impressively pragmatic and positive Coach Prunty, who threw him onto the floor during crunch time in the dramatic win over Israel.

Yes, fans of British Basketball generally and especially those who follow the BBL, had plenty to savour from the national teams’ exploits in Slovenia.

The coaching team, backroom staff and of course the players, could barely have done any more in the circumstances, to fly the flag so high and proud for British Basketball.

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