Basketball: Great Britain 71 Belgium 76

Sheffield's Devon Van Oostrum in action against Belgium. Pic: Mansoor Ahmed Photography.
Sheffield's Devon Van Oostrum in action against Belgium. Pic: Mansoor Ahmed Photography.
Have your say

Great Britain narrowly missed out on a second victory at EuroBasket on Friday falling to Group A rivals Belgium in a game decided in a critical fourth quarter stretch.

London-born forward Dan Clark had a game-high 19 points in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and although GB fought back from 10 behind to move ahead in the second quarter, they were out-scored 12-5 in a vital late spell.

It leaves Britain with a 1-2 record with two games remaining, with Germany next on Sunday afternoon.

“The big thing is understanding that we do have a big game coming up after the rest day,” said coach Joe Prunty. “We’ll get prepared, mentally and physically, we’ll rejuvenate.

“We’ve got a game plan on how to attack. But we’ll take advantage of there being a rest day to not only recover from three hard-fought games but also to prepare for two important last games.”

Prunty saw his team fall 14-4 behind before getting a positive response, following a change to his starting line-up which saw Kieron Achara inserted along with young forward Myles Hesson.

Birmingham-born forward, Hesson, as he has done so often in his first campaign since moving up from the GB Under-20 team, provided a vital spark at both ends.

But it was Kyle Johnson who hit a three which put Britain in front for the first time in the second period before Hesson completed a 12-4 burst that sent their team 38-33 in front at half-time.

With 11 lead changes in the second half, it was Belgium – paced by a team-high 15 points from Sacha Massot - who ultimately held their nerve, with their rivals left to rue 21/31 shooting from the foul line and some chances which failed to fall their way.

Sheffield’s former Junior Sharks player Devon van Oostrum, the team’s youngest player at the age of 20, put the British 62-60 ahead with six minutes left but it was the last occasion that they would hold sway.

Long-time Euroleague star Axel Hervelle put The Lions in control and Wen Mukubu, who had four three-pointers, was instrumental in a decisive final push.

“They played a solid game today but I’m just disappointed,” said Achara, who added 12 points.

“I felt like we had the game but we made some mental lapses in the second half and they capitalised on it. You can’t make mental lapses like that in a tournament like this.”

Earlier, unbeaten Ukraine retained top spot in Group A with an 88-83 win over Germany, and France meet Israel in Friday’s late game.

GB are back on court against Germany on Sunday, 13:30 (BST) at the Tivoli Arena.