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Two agonising defeats but more signs of promise from GB

Great Britain suffered two further defeats in their build-up to the Olympics but can be encouraged by their performances.

Great Britain suffered two further defeats in their build-up to the Olympics but can be encouraged by their performances.

Chris Finch’s men were beaten 79-74 by France in Orleans on Saturday before losing 78-74 to the top ranked European team, Spain, in Valladolid last night.

After trailing 21-15 at the end of the opening quarter, GB took the lead at the start of the second. However, Spain regained their control to lead by six at the half time interval, 38-32. By the end of the third, the visitors had closed to within four points but Spain managed to hold on to their slender advantage to record a victory in their opening warm-up game.

Pau Gasol led the way for the Spaniards with a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds while Joel Freeland top scored for GB with 15 points in 18 minutes on court.

On Saturday, GB had made a strong start in the first half against a French side, who were without San Antonio star, Tony Parker for most of the game due to an eye injury. Mike Lenzly netted a trio of triples as GB finished the opening quarter with a 12-2 run to lead 24-15.

The visitors stayed ahead in the second and managed to stretch their advantage out to 20 points on a three by Andrew Lawrence. Nate Reinking followed with another score from beyond the arc as GB took a convincing 43-25 lead into half time.

However, France battled back in the second half to deny Great Britain a memorable win. The hosts still trailed by as many as 16 points midway through the third but a 10-2 close gave them the momentum needed to overhaul their opponents.

The British resistance was finally broken with 90 seconds remaining as Boris Diaw put the French side ahead for the first time since the opening quarter and it was a lead they would not relinquish. Reinking kept the game alive with a three late on but Leo Wertermann sealed the win from the free throw line.

Luol Deng’s 23 points were not enough for GB, who after losing to Spain have now lost all seven of their warm-up games ahead of the Olympics.

Great Britain will now host Portugal in a two game international series in Sheffield this coming week before a titanic clash with the USA in Manchester on July 19th before concluding their preparation with two matches in Belgium.

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