Basketball: Britain fall flat in 'wrestling match'

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The Independent Online

Great Britain's men stumbled to a 69-68 defeat against Belarus at Sheffield's Ponds Forge on Saturday night, losing ground both in their Eurobasket B Championship group and in their attempt to be promoted to the A division for next summer's finals.

Chris Finch's team finished their first round of Group B fixtures with two wins from four games, but will certainly have to win all four of next season's return fixtures to qualify automatically for the B Championship play-offs which will mean winning in Belarus and away to the group leaders, the Netherlands.

Finch complained that officials allowed the towering and physical Belarus players to drag the match into a "wrestling match". Finch said: "The officiating was atrocious. It was a horrible representation of basketball." But Britain had the chance to make their opponents pay from the foul line but shot their free throws poorly, especially Andrew Sullivan who still led their scorers with 18 points.

Finch blamed himself for not instigating a better play with seven seconds left after Nate Reinking's three-pointer had cut Belarus's lead to 69-68.

* Britain's women defeated Luxembourg 72-50 on Saturday in Cardiff and jointly lead their B Championship Group B with Bosnia-Herzegovina.