This was perhaps a fitting start to how the match was to be played out.
Team GB (ranked 43rd in the world in FIBA’s latest rankings) took on the overwhelming favourites for the gold medal, Team USA. What resulted was no real surprise; USA gave Team GB a lesson in basketball, winning 118-78.
Playing with a team bustling with all-stars, both in the starting line up and off the bench, Team USA started slowly but dominated as the game wore on.
The combination of their aggressive defence and the quickness of their all round play was simply too much for Team GB to handle.
Team GB’s best player, Luol Deng put in a fantastic performance, contributing with 25 points, but it wasn’t enough to really threaten the Americans.
Following a conversation with Deng at the end of the match, His former college coach and now Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski commented that: “He said they just had never faced that speed and quickness, so you can't practice that… You can't simulate that, so I thought it was a great experience for them. And us."
Team GB’s Coach Chris Finch, on the other hand, was not particularly happy with his team’s second-half performance, stating that: “Every game has to be played out; every possession has to be played out.”
While he has a point that Team GB’s 2nd half performance was particularly disappointing in comparison to their first, I feel it was more down to Team USA demonstrating more intensity and explosion in their play after the interval.
Ultimately, I think Luol Deng’s view was a pretty fair assessment as Team GB were certainly off the pace, especially as the game went on.
They shouldn’t be too ashamed about that though, as the only way they will start to adapt to this level of play is through greater exposure to it.
So, if anything yesterday’s defeat will be a crucial learning experience in the development of the British squad. This will be a key theme that continues for team GB over the next few weeks.
They are not realistic contenders for a medal at the Olympics, so their experience against Team USA will be leveraged as preparation for the level of competition they can expect to face and learn from during London 2012.
Thus, the goal for London 2012 will be for Team GB to put together a good set of performances to build on for future European and World competitions, while also improving their FIBA ranking.
image: © ENOUGH Project