London 2012 Olympics: First Olympic win for British basketball since 1948
Great Britain last night celebrated their first Olympic basketball win since 1948 on an emotional evening that also saw coach Chris Finch confirm his intention to step down and the retirement of veterans Robert Archibald and Nate Reinking.
Great Britain won their final Group B game 90-58 against an overmatched China, getting the victory they had craved even after their dream of reaching the quarter-finals had gone with defeat to Australia three nights ago.
Finch will now depart a post he has held since the team’s inception in 2006, while Scotland’s Archibald, 32, is retiring from the game and 38-year-old guard Reinking – one of only two players to have played for the team since the start – retired from international basketball.
While several changes appear to be imminent in British Basketball, the main one last night was the return of smiles to the players’ faces after some frustrating results all summer long.
Drew Sullivan, who like Reinking has played from the beginning, was emotional by the end. “It’s huge,” he said. “This is something we’ve been working [towards] for so long. It’s not just getting a win in the Olympics, but what’s more important is to do it with people who are life-long friends.
Finch, who has overseen the rise of the team from the backwaters of European basketball to the big stage of these Olympic Games, was not keen to talk about his own situation straight after last night’s game.
“In all likelihood it is my last game, but the focus now should be on our guys at the Olympics,” he said.
“I told our guys we’re extremely proud of the way they played today, they came out with fire in their belly.
“It was important for our program to get a win and make a bit of history and the guys were up for the challenge.”
Britain’s only other Olympic win in history came the last time London hosted the Games as they beat Ireland 46-21.
Britain lost their first four games of these Olympics in frustrating circumstances, either playing top teams like Spain and Brazil close before falling short, or, in the case of Saturday night, blowing a big lead over Australia with a huge second-half collapse.
“We needed the win, and the basketball public needed it,” Finch added. “We had some guys playing their last game, whether it be for this programme or for their career, and they were inspirational tonight. Our guys did a great job feeding off of one another and feeling the energy when Kieron [Achara] came into the game.”
Achara was called on early in the game due to foul trouble for Deng and Joel Freeland, and quickly started hitting shots on his way to 16 points.
“I was just playing in the moment,” he said. “I didn’t think, I just played today. I got a lot of encouragement from the guys because I was the only one in the team who hadn’t scored.
“They told me they were going to be looking for me tonight.”
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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