Basketball: Team GB coach Chris Finch knows his side must learn to win close games following narrow defeat to Spain


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The Independent Online

Great Britain coach Chris Finch knows it is vitally important for his team to figure out a way to win close games as they are unlikely to blow out another side any time soon.

Finch's team finished as hard-luck losers yet again as they went down 79-78 to world number two Spain last night, outscoring the European champions 30-19 in the fourth quarter but falling just short.

It was their third tough loss of the Olympics, and their third tough loss against Spain over the last three years.

Britain have shown they can hang with the big teams, they just cannot yet find a way to beat them.

"Our team knows the score," Finch said. "We're not going to win games unless it's close at the end.

"They've got to keep putting themselves in that position, then make plays, make shots and get stops.

"We got stops, we played tough defence, but then we had a couple of turnovers. We didn't get a foul call when we needed a foul call.

"Those things are going to happen sometimes, but close games is what we have to be in. We're not going to out-talent anybody, we're not going to win by double-digits.

"It's the last big step for our programme but we have to keep putting ourselves in that position and stay mentally tough."

Britain battled foul trouble throughout the game, with both Luol Deng and Pops Mensah-Bonsu forced to sit for long periods with four fouls.

But they found a way to stay in the game, and Deng returned in the fourth quarter to inspire the late charge.

Deng's three-pointer with seven seconds left cut the gap to one, but Britain did not get the foul call they sought before time ran out.

Deng finished with 26 points while Joel Freeland had 25.

The loss drops Britain to 0-3 in the group, and they now need to win both their remaining games against Australia and China in order to reach their goal of the quarter-finals.

"We showed a lot of heart in a game we wanted to win," said Freeland. "But we stuck together and we always put ourselves in position to win the games.

"We came back from the loss in the Russia game and played better against Brazil and we came back from a tough loss to Brazil and were better against Spain.

"We hope to continue that and next time it will be a win."