It was a mess for Great Britain from the off, and that was just the shot clock, as Bosnia and Herzegovina opened their account in the EuroBasket 2015 qualifiers with a comfortable win in the Copper Box.
Everything was going ok for Team GB until the arena’s technical issues got fixed. A scrappy opening two minutes were punctuated by an inadvertent horn and multiple issues with the shot-clock, eventually resulting in the clock tied to the TV broadcast getting switched off. That scattered stage ended with Great Britain ahead 2-1. Bosnia went in front through a Nemanja Mirotic three with 7.47 left in the first. Britain never led again.
Everyone knew Mirza Teletovic was going to be the danger man for the visitors before the game and the Brooklyn Nets man had 13 points and 4 boards by the half. This was far from a one-man show for Dusan Ivanovic’s charges. The visitors found space for quality shots with ease. Britain’s defence had hustle but they lacked any sense of order. For all of Dan Clark’s athletic endeavour, Bosnia always found space be it inside or out. Bosnia made Britain look like second-class citizens of European basketball throughout the opening half. It wasn’t that Britain over-committed to interior or outside defence, Bosnia were too smart to allow them to transition. By half-time, with Bosnia up 46-31, the only question was whether Britain would leave the Copper Box with any dignity. As it turned out, they did far better than could have been hoped for.
Britain could have done with a Luol Deng, Joel Freeland, or Pops Mensah Bonsu. With Britain’s best players unavailable, their lack of depth was all too obvious. When other European nations take the court without their stars, it hurts but it isn’t a catastrophe. Team GB is just too shallow at the elite level. Clark is a quality talent but asking him to carry this outfit was just too much.
Mirza kept having his own way through the third quarter. Facing tough D? Nails the 3. Loses his handle? Recovers for the bucket and the foul. Bosnia however weren’t as disciplined with a comfortable lead. They didn’t need to be but it allowed Britain’s loose play to help them create some transition offence. The game wasn’t in danger of being competitive but the hosts restored some pride.
A fast run to start the fourth cut the deficit to 10. It was still Bosnia’s game to lose but Britain had finally given the home support some cause for hope. Right now, that’s something to hold on to. Then the scoring table had a malfunction again. This time down the stats end, where the issue was over fouls. It caused another pause, another argument, and then a debate over the score. The fuss came to nothing. Kyle Johnson made it a single digit game. Progress. Britain were able to cut it to 73-66 but Bosnia always had enough breathing room to weather the storm. The fears of a blow-out were at least behind them. Teletovic’s contribution of 25 points, 6 boards, and 2 assists ended up proving far more important than expected come the gun but the result was all the visitors truly cared for. A win, a 1-0 record, and one step closer to EuroBasket 2015.