Match Recap: Great Britain vs Greece

21st August 2017

On Saturday night, GB Basketball and Greece took to the Copperbox Arena for their penultimate Eurobasket preparation game in what would be an exhilarating game from start to finish. The teams would play in front of a packed out arena with what seemed like equal representation from fans of both nations.



Both teams started strong coming out of the gate, with Greece’s Thanasis Antentokounmpo throwing down the dunk to put the first points on the board for Greece. GB kept the score close as Dan Clark and Gabe Olaseni put the first few points on the board giving the team an 11-8 lead. GB’s Luke Nelson would also get himself on the board early as Olaseni found him on a backdoor cut, giving him the easy finish inside. Scotland’ Gareth Murray – who featured in the starting line-up – then struck for GB, hitting a three-pointer to put them up by 5.



This would not be the case for long however, as the score would change hands six times in just the first quarter. Greece’s Nick Calathes refused to let the score get out of hand early, facilitating the offense and contributing six points as well as dishing out a sweet behind-the-back pass on a fast break. By the end of the quarter, both teams were level at 22 a-piece.

After Dan Clark hit his second three-pointer of the game, Greece would then jump out to an 7-point lead in the first three minutes of the second quarter as their NBA center George Papagiannis made his presence felt inside. Following a timeout, GB would then react with another jump shot from Olaseni and a slick play from Luke nelson to get the score inside, bringing the game back to within three points. Dan Clark continued to be a force inside, racking up offensive boards and posting up his defender to keep the game within grasp for GB.



Kieron Achara would put his first points on the board late in the second quarter as he was fouled on the way to the bucket by Papagiannis and would subsequently sink two free throws to tie the game 44-44. After Greece’s Nikos Pappas made the final layup of the half, there were just two points in it as both teams went back to the locker room with the score at 46-44 to Greece.

Coming out of the break, GB’s Andrew Lawrence would strike early, hitting a three-pointer off the feed from Nelson just as the shot clock expired, giving the team their first lead of the second half. Gareth Murray would then follow suite, hitting a three-pointer of his own to push the score to 51-50 Great Britain.

In a similar fashion to the rest of the game, the lead would again change hands 5 times in the third quarter in what was a neck-and-neck contest throughout. GB made a late surge at the end of the third quarter as Keiron Achara played like a man on a mission, hustling on every play and scoring 7 of his 9 points for the game in the last five minutes of the third. Going into the fourth, GB were up 65-59.



The fourth quarter was one to remember. With the game in the balance, tensions were high on both sides. Greece quickly brought the game back early in the fourth, scoring 11 straight points to bring the score to 65-70 in their favour. Greece’s Kostas Mitoglou had a very efficient fourth quarter, scoring all 10 of his points in the final period and was instrumental in Greece’s late surge.

Things would start to get heated from then on, as the Greek bench did not agree with a number of the referee’s calls, subsequently landing them a technical foul which was converted by Dan Clark, trimming Greece’s lead to just two points at 72-70. Olaseni then made two free throws, tying the game once again. Greece would then go up by four as Pappas converted on one of his two free throws and Vangelis Mantzaris made a three-pointer with just over four minutes to play.

Luke Nelson was not letting this game get away from GB that easily however, as he came off a Kieron Achara screen and pulled up from the free throw line, making the shot to bring the game to within two points once again. Soon after, he found himself matched up against Papagiannis on the wing and recognising the mismatch, swiftly got past him and sailed in for the one-handed dunk.



With tensions still running high, Papagiannis would receive an unsportsmanlike foul after he made no attempt to get the ball on a shot attempt and then Papanikoulaou would receive one of his own after he threw Gareth Murray into the stands in frustration. Murray would sit out the rest of the game but assured basketballscotland that it was just “a knock to the knee and nothing too serious.”

With just under 30 seconds to play in the game and Greece up 84-81, Luke Nelson would come round a screen and finish a contested layup inside to slim Greece’s lead to just one point. The next play, Nelson intercepted a pass and took the ball coast to coast but couldn’t finish inside. Papagiannis corralled the rebound and was subsequently fouled by Nelson, sending him to the line where he sank two free throws to put Greece up 86-83.

GB then called a timeout with six seconds left on the clock. On the following inbounds play, Andrew Lawrence received the pass in the corner, faked his defender and drew the foul before stepping back and hitting a contested three, that much to the dismay of the home crowd, was waved off by the referee. Lawrence then went to the free-throw line and hit one of his two free throws to bring the score back to within two points. After a Greek timeout, Pappas was then fouled on the next possession and went on to convert both his free throws. With Greece up by four and three seconds left on the clock, Andrew Lawrence dribbled the ball to half court and hoisted the ball from beyond the three-point line, but it was not to be and Greece went on to win the game in London.

Despite the loss, there was a number of positives to be taken from the game for GB. Speaking with basketballscotland after the game, GB captain Kieron Achara had this to say about the result:

“It was a great test to see where we are at ahead of Eurobasket. We learned that we can compete but we still have to learn how to win close games.”

GB will now travel to Warsaw for their final pre-Eurobasket game before their tournament opener against Belgium on September 1st.


It is also appropriate to congratulate Iain MacDonald for refereeing his first game as a FIBA official.