Basketball: Deng et al can’t halt GB slide but Finch is upbeat

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With NBA star Luol Deng in the side for the first time, Great Britain men’s basketball side went down 79-74 to France in an Olympic warm-up game in Orleans at the weekend after a superb first half when they led 43-26.

Chicago Bulls forward Deng played for 34 minutes, scoring 23 points and taking 12 rebounds as GB coach Chris Finch expressed satisfaction with his team’s display despite the fact it was their sixth loss in six warm-up games: “It was a good test and we can only get better – sure we’ve lost our games but it’s all about team chemistry and improving game by game.”

Scotland’s Robert Archibald and Kieron Achara had mixed fortunes. Archibald played 
almost 15 minutes and scored twice from the free throw line to narrow the gap to 72-71.

But former Falkirk Fury giant Achara only came on for the last 56 seconds and must wonder what he has to do to enjoy more court time.

Great Britain’s under-20 men including Scots Lee Reilly 
(Edinburgh Kings), Jonny 
Bunyan (Falkirk Fury) and former Falkirk star Ali Fraser 
(University of Maine) beat 
Belgium 79-71 in their last warm-game before the Euro B Championship in Bulgaria later this week.

Fraser was joint top scorer with 18.

Meanwhile, without their GB players Scotland beat Gibraltar 84-60 in their final game to finish sixth in the European Championship for Small 
Countries in San Marino.

Nic Collins (St Mirren) completed an outstanding tournament by again top-scoring with 20 points for an average of 16 points a game which put him fifth overall, as well as being top rebounder with seven for fourth overall with an average of eight rebounds per game.

He was well supported by Ewan Campbell (Troon Tornadoes) with 13 points, six 
rebounds and three assists, Scott Russell (Falkirk Fury) with 11 points and a remarkable eight assists and Ifedade Thomas (Troon), with ten points.

After his 30-point contribution in Scotland’s narrow 76-75 group defeat to Wales, Scotland’s skipper Gareth Murray (Glasgow Rocks) could only manage eight points though he did have five steals and four 
assists.

Wales also beat Gibraltar 
95-72 to finish sixth overall.

Andorra beat Moldova 74-72 in the final while Malta recovered from their shock group 
defeat to turn the tables on hosts San Marino 96-57 for third.