Basketball: Euro joy for basketballers

On a historic night for British basketball at the Echo Arena, Liverpool, both Standard Life GB teams qualified for next year's Eurobasket Finals with performances which challenged the International Federation (FIBA) to confirm their places in the London 2012 Olympics.

The GB women pointed the way with an emphatic 77-59 win over Germany to clinch their first-ever Eurobasket Finals place in Poland next year.

Ahead 47-24 at half-time, they survived a rocky spell early in the second half when the visitors closed the gap to 11 points but hit back strongly with three three-pointers in a row to widen the gap again to 21 with five minutes left.

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Coach Tom Maher was able to run his bench as they closed out their greatest triumph. Portobello's Rose Anderson was again perfect from the free throw line with four from four in nearly ten minutes' court time but the top scorers were Julie Page with 18 points and nine rebounds, Jo Leedham with 15 points, Kim Butler with 12 and Natalie Stafford with ten. By contrast the GB men tested their supporters' nerves to the utmost against Bosnia-Herzegovina, coming from three points down with 20 seconds left to take the game into overtime then pushing on to win 94-85 with Luol Deng scoring a superb 38 points, his highest yet for GB, and taking 13 rebounds, while Pops Mensah Bonsu, who sank the two free throws to tie the game, scored 32 and took an amazing 21 rebounds.

Veteran guard Nate Reinking added 16 while sole Scot Kieran Achara again played some superb defence in his ten-minute contribution.

Afterwards coach Chris Finch called on FIBA to allow Britain to take up its places in the Olympics as befits the host nation. "We're entitled to our rightful spot by the way we've played in these qualifiers - we've fulfilled all the objectives," he claimed.

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