All right, BallinEurope returns with game coverage via live blog, as Team Britain and Team Portugal — playing for the proverbial pride — face off in EuroBasket game four, each side in search of its first win. In the case of Britain, of course, they’ll be chasing their first-ever major tournament win as the national program continues its development toward competing in the 2012 Olympic Games. Join us below the break for a nice test between these two maverick squads, and enjoy the game!
Pregame. Despite the 0-3 marks compiled by both teams, no pessimism or lack of enthusiasm is apparent in either side as they warmup to a remix of De La Soul’s “Ring Ring Ring.” This could actually be some fun…
There’s no way FIBA can report 1,000 in attendance for this game. Once again, Lithuania supporters appear to have both teams’ fans outnumbered, though it’s nice to see the British contingent already vocally behind their lads already.
First quarter. What do you suppose the over/under on Luol Deng’s point total is today…? BiE’s going with 27.
9.28: Nate Reinking fouls. This much is certain: With so few viable scorers, Britain cannot afford for this guy to be leaving the game early.
7.36: Deng with the first points of the game … finally. Maybe not so much fun.
7.23: Wow, Ogo Adegboye already with two PFs.
7.17: The perpetual cry from the British fans: “Hus-TLE! Hus-TLE! Dee-FENSE! Dee-FENSE!”
6.06: First crazy stat: Portugal just got off their first shot yet. And it’s a brick.
5.40: Portugal finally hits. 6-2 to Britain.
4.26: Deng 6, everybody else 6. Britain up, 8-4.
3.42: Clever remark by Lithuanian journalist: “Britain’s basically playing one-on-zero, because the only player that matters is Deng.” (Well, that’s not very kind.) Meanwhile, Miguel Minhaya hits two FTs to get Portugal within one: 10-9, Britain.
3.04: Deng drives the lane, hits, gets the and-one foul off Joao Santos. And makes the FT. 13-9 to Britain. And now the chant is “HUS-tle! DEE-fense! DEE-fense! HUS-tle!”
2.29: Shooting stats: Deng, 4-for-6; all others combined, 4-for-20.
1.39: From a British fan: “C’mon guys, energy!” Hey, they’re trying…
1.11: Nice charge drawn in the lane by Mike Lenzly. British ball, and they’re up by 3, 14-11.
0.39: After hitting two FTs, Miguel Minhava is leading scorer for Portugal with four points — all from the line. 14-13 to Britain.
0.05: Yeesh. Lefty Robert Archibald tries the full-court football pass and throws it out of bounds.
0.01.4: It’s Minhava at the line again for three this time, makes the trio to tie it at 16. That makes sense, really. 13 of the game’s 32 points have been from the charity stripe.
0.00: Ah, we’ve been waiting for this … no, not the first-quarter buzzer, but rather those excellent Lithuanian dancers.
Second quarter. Deng brings the ball up from the halfcourt, works it all the way into the key, feeds Freeland, who makes the two but misses the semi-obligatory (in this game) FT.
9.31: Good news/bad news. Devon van Oostrum’s in for GB; unfortunately, he gets on the stat sheet first with a PF. Minhava sinks ’em both again. He’s got 10 — all from the line. (Really.)
9.03: Deng hits the little two-footer and the FT. Britain up, 21-19.
8.38: Britain forces the 24-second clock violation. Guess they husTLED on deFENSE that time.
8.23: And another Portugal foul. A combined 18 in the game thus far. Slow, slow, slow.
8.16: Now 19.
7.42: Deng with the tip-in. Sudden thought: How much would Chicago Bulls fans hate FIBA tournaments if Deng goes down in this one? (Assuming there’s an NBA at all in 2011-12, that is…)
6.49: Smooth three-pointer from sharpshooter Reinking. There’s actually some flow happening now … 29-22 to Britain.
5.56: Wow, Deng is unstoppable. Drives the lane, goes (waaaay) over Carlos Andrade, misses, tips in his own shot. 19 for him already.
5.33: Eric Boateng commits the foul; he’s the eighth Brit with a PF.
5.19: With Britain on a 7-2 run (hey, that’s big in this one), Portugal calls timeout. Britain up, 33-24.
4.22: O, the alley-oop from Ogo to Deng! 21 for the big guy as Britain goes up 35-27.
3.46: The 11th Portuguese PF is recorded by Elvis Evora. What’s amazing is that Deng has only gone to the line twice, especially since he’s been either constantly in the paint or driving into it. Britain, 37-28.
2.39: Deng with the brilliant assist from the top of the arc to Lenzly in the corner. Lenzly knocks down the three and draws the foul, knocked to the floor. Hits to make it 44-30 and Britain’s biggest lead of the game.
2.04: Andrade hits two FTs; he’s now high for Portugal with 12 and has become admirable in overcoming Dengophobia. Britain, 44-32.
0.03: Naturally, on the last Portugal possession, Filipe da Silva … draws a foul. And hits both FTs. 44-34 to Britain … and they call timeout? Perhaps the pace is too quick…
0.00: At half, it’s Britain 44-34. The good news is that we might be seeing history in the making with Britain poised to take first-ever win no. 1. Deng’s line: 9-of-15 overall shooting for 21 points plus six boards and three assists. The 27-point over is toast.
Third quarter. Deng has 21 points right now. The current high for the tournament is Andrea Bargnani with 36 against Latvia. Latvia had also given up 31 to Tony Parker in game one.
3.26: Whoa, only the second PF this quarter. It’s on Evora. Archibald hits both FTs to make it 54-41 to Britain … ever closer to that W…
2.30: Now 56-41 to Britain. Anyone feeling mean enough to jinx ’em?
0.05: Deng, incredibly is still scoreless in this quarter. He’s 0-for-2.
0.00: Minhava hits the layup from the baseline at the buzzer to limit the British lead to 59-45.
Fourth quarter. 9.40: Here it comes … can Britain seal the deal? They’ve had trouble closing out games, but geez, it’s 14 now. 59-45.
8.33: Miranda, typically Portugal’s go-to guy, has been cold. He just hits his second; he’s 2-of-10 today.
6.37: Britain up, 68-53, and o boy, they can taste it like a pint…
5.13: Portugal won’t give up yet. Andrade with the two and the and-one. Hits the FT to make it 68-59. Will Britain really have trouble closing *this one* out? And why has Deng only taken one shot this quarter? He needs a steady diet of passes going his way.
4.16: Uh oh, now 68-61…
3.44: Wow, coach Mario Palma gets T’ed up. If that’s not a break for Britain, BiE don’t know what is…
3.24: There’s Deng! To the hole! 74-61. And now the players are mixing it up a bit. Lenzly gets a T for his fifth foul. Archibald also gets the technical. If that’s not a bad break for Britain, BiE don’t know what is…
2.43: Kyle Johnson is the go-to guy for Britain? He’s got seven points, all in the fourth.
2.14: Deng adds two more; he’s got 27 and Britain’s up 79-67. History, man…
1.13: Deng is gonna seal this one … two more for him as he goes for the 30. 81-69 to Britain; so close…
0.07: “Good foul,” says my Lithuanian compadre, “now i can watch [Latvia-Israel] on FIBA TV.”
0.00: Deng hits his 30th and 31st! Britain wins! God save the queen!