One Ticket To Lodz

09 September 2009
By Simon Wilkinson

Quite simply, it's do or die for Great Britain. They need to beat Serbia in the final game of EuroBasket Group C just to stand a chance of booking a place in the Qualifying Round. If they lose, they go home.

A win for Serbia would see them automatically through to the next stage with a 2-1 mark. A loss would see a tie with Great Britain and maybe even Spain (should they lose to Slovenia) which would then require to look at the results between those teams to determine which two advance.

The Brits will be upbeat after an inspiring comeback against Spain on Tuesday. They got off to the worst possible start, trailing 12-0 and committing eight fouls in the first seven minutes. But they dusted themselves off and gradually worked their way back into the game.

A 14-0 run spanning the late part of the third quarter and early final frame saw them take their first lead, 68-66. They were up by as many as four, 73-69, when Jarrett Hart hit from downtown with five minutes left to play. But Spain, led by Pau Gasol, rallied back and after he hit the go-ahead three-pointer, they closed out the game.

Meanwhile Serbia were a shadow of the team that stunned Spain on Monday. They never led against Slovenia and shot just 35 percent through the first three quarters.

No doubt Dusan Ivkovic's side will hope to rediscover their glorious form from Monday night.

Head-to-head: These two teams have never met before. England have played three games against Yugoslavia and lost all of them.

Key match-up: How the backcourt players perform will play a big part in the outcome of this game. Great Britain's guards have been heavily criticised but yet they were the ones who spearheaded the furious comeback that almost saw them stun world champions Spain. Hart, Mike Lenzly and Nate Reinkin's three-point bombs gave their opponents a real fright. If they can stay out of foul trouble - starter Reinkin lasted only 36 seconds in the first quarter after picking up two quick ones - and hit their open shots, they will be doing their part.

Serbia's Milos Teodosic was the only bright spot in the defeat to Slovenia. He had 14 points and six assists but will need his backcourt partner Milenko Tepic to step it up a notch. Ivan Paunic can also be a key contributor off the bench.

X-factor: Nenad Krstic. As good as Serbia's captain was in leading his team to victory over Spain on Monday with 17 points and six rebounds, he was equally as bad against Slovenia. The 2.13m center played only 13 minutes and had just two points and two rebounds.

Stats: 53 - The number of fouls these two teams combined for on Tuesday. Great Britain committed 30 fouls, resulting in 40 free-throw attempts for Spain. Serbia were whistled for 23 fouls as that's all they could do to slow down Slovenia's frenetic pace.

Sounding-off: "This is it, we have one last chance (to book a place in the Qualifying Round) so we have to give it all we've got and really go for it. The way we played against Spain, it's encouraging ahead of this do-or-die game. We're improving with each and every passing game and that's really nice to see. Hopefully we can cap that off with a win." - Nate Reinking.


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