Britain takes long-sought basketball win

British basketball fans now have something more than a moral victory to celebrate after the Olympic hosts beat China 90-58 on Monday in a men's preliminary round contest that could give the game a boost.

"It's huge. It's GB's first win ever at the Olympics. It's an incredible feeling to finally get that win," British forward Joel Freeland said.

The British (1-4) entered the Olympics ranked 43rd in the world while China (0-5) was rated 10th. Both teams had already been eliminated from any chance of reaching the medal playoffs.

"It would have been better if we could have gotten through. We were so close," Freeland said. "But it was a great finish."

Britain's women went winless the past 10 days and the men went winless in group play in 1948, including a 54-25 loss to China, as well as their first four games this time around.

"Winning the first game in Olympic history is big for us, but we set our goals a little higher and made our country proud," former NBA big man Pops Mensah-Bonsu said. "It feels great and hopefully the future is bright."

Luol Deng of the NBA's Chicago Bulls hopes the victory helped expose the sport enough in Britain to provide a base for a new generation of players.

"Hopefully we showed everyone we have talent. Hopefully it will be more popular and there will be more attention for it," Deng said.

"It means a lot. We have come a long way from when we were in the third level of FIBA. This was the vision we had. We've taken steps in the right direction. We still have a ways to go. This is a good start."

Britain earned a moral victory by scaring World No. 2 Spain before falling 79-78 and put a fright into Brazil before falling 67-62.

"It feels good to get the victory," British forward Drew Sullivan said. "I'm really, really happy. We have been playing well for a long time.@

"I hope it has gotten bigger," Freeland added. "People have gotten a taste of it and they like it. I'm sure it won't be as much as football. It's a push in the right direction."

Freeland is off in a new direction as well, set to join the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers.

"It's going to be a new phase in my career," he said. "I'm in position to get ready. I have to know what it feels like. I've got to do whatever it takes to be ready for the NBA. That's why I'm going over there a month early."

Kieron Achara scored a game-high 16 points and hoped he helped blaze a trail of his own.

"Basketball is not big in this country. This is the start of something," he said. "Hopefully the sport can grow from here."

China's winless finish was a significant stumble for a team that reached the last eight in three of the past four Olympic tournaments but now lacks the size and skill of retired NBA 2.29m star centre Yao Ming.

The only other time the Chinese went winless in Olympic men's basketball was at Barcelona in 1992.

Wang Zhizhi, China's first NBA player, scored a team-high 11 points in his Olympic farewell and said future Chinese teams must focus harder on defence.

"We shouldn't lose confidence as we will improve in the future," Wang said. "There are still differences in strength in comparison to other teams. Compared to the world's great teams, we lack in defence. We need to practice defence."

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • 15 wounded in attack on Philippine mosque
    15 wounded in attack on Philippine mosque

    Fifteen people including 10 police officers were wounded in an attack on a mosque on a remote Philippine island long plagued by Islamic militancy, officials said on Saturday. Successive blasts targeted a mosque on the island of Jolo -- an initial grenade attack followed by a bomb explosion that was intended to target police who rushed to the scene, local authorities said. "It seems the (first) explosion was set up to draw responders as the target," the provincial police chief Senior …

  • US missile cruiser docks at Subic
    US missile cruiser docks at Subic

    A US Navy missile cruiser has dropped anchor in Subic Bay as part of “routine port call,” amid rising tension in the West Philippine Sea stirred by China’s island building activities and other threatening moves by its forces. The arrival of the Ticonderoga-class missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG-67) at the Subic Bay Freeport in Olongapo City yesterday was “just a routine port visit for ship replenishment and routine maintenance of shipboard system,” said Philippine Navy Public Affairs Office …

  • Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño
    Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño

    The agriculture and power sectors, as well as the general public should brace for a prolonged El Niño phenomenon that could further reduce water supply for electricity and irrigation, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned yesterday. Flaviana Hilario, acting deputy administrator for research and development of PAGASA, said the El Niño condition is expected to intensify from weak to moderate by August this year. Anthony Lucero, …

  • China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row
    China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row

    The US should help “cool down” the Philippines and realize that its meddling in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute would only stir tensions, a Chinese newspaper reported. “Washington should know its meddling in the South China Sea has been destabilizing the region. The US has vowed not to take sides in the territorial dispute, which involves China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. …

  • No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests
    No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests

    K to 12 is the fruit of years of comprehensive consultations involving different sectors in education,” Aquino said during the launching of the program at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City. Organized by the Department of Education (DepEd), the launch was attended by teachers, students and representatives from different stakeholders supportive of the K to 12 program. It was held two years after the signing of Republic Act 10533, or the Enhanced Basic Education …

  • MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t
    MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t

    The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) maintained its bid for completion of the tripartite review of the implementation of the peace agreement with the Philippine government in 1996. The MNLF’s desire to put consensual closure to the tripartite effort was relayed by its leaders to Sayed El-Masry, the special envoy of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), during the annual foreign ministers conference in Kuwait last Thursday. The MNLF peace agreement with the government in Sept. 2, …

  • Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe
    Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe

    President Aquino is expected to raise the West Philippine Sea dispute during his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan next week. However, there is no word yet if the Philippines will specifically ask Tokyo to join calls for China to stop its massive reclamation activities in disputed waters. Aquino will leave for Tokyo on June 2 for a state visit until June 5. …

  • CHED releases wrong data on tuition hike
    CHED releases wrong data on tuition hike

    The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) appears to have released erroneous data on the allowed tuition and other fee increases in Metro Manila for the incoming academic year. On the list of the 51 approved higher education institutions (HEI) allowed to impose hikes, CHED pegged the average increase in tuition at P32.34 per unit and the average increase in other fees at P34.79. However, a Philippine STAR re-computation showed that the actual average approved tuition increases in Metro Manila …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options