London 2012: GB men’s basketball team make history with first ever Olympic victory

Men’s basketball - Group B: Great Britain 90 China 58

Great Britain’s men ended their London 2012 campaign on a high, winning their first ever Olympic group match against China to avoid the wooden spoon in Group B.

This was only the second time that GB had fielded a basketball team at the Games, following their last appearance in London in 1948.

The hosts had lost all five of their group games on that occasion and looked set for a similar fate this time around after losing their first four matches at the Basketball Arena in Stratford.

It had often been a case of ‘so near but so far’ for the home team, who had only been narrowly beaten by Brazil (67-62) and Spain (79-78) – and they finally gained their just rewards today by thumping China to avoid the bottom spot.

GB did not even need to play one of their biggest stars, Tottenham’s Pops Mensah-Bonsu, who went to St Thomas More School in Wood Green and has gone on to play in America’s NBA.

On the other hand Drew Sullivan, who also grew up in Haringey and represented the borough at the London Youth Games as a teenager, was the third-top scorer for his side with 11 points, adding another three assists.

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China, who had also lost all four of their previous matches, initially went 7-0 up but were quickly overpowered by the bullish Brits, who were in irresistible form and took a healthy 46-31 lead into half-time.

Joel Freeland and Sullivan added to that advantage after the interval and NBA heavyweight Luol Deng, who started his basketball career in Brixton in south London, netted midway through the third quarter to give the hosts a 17-point cushion at 59-42.

Sullivan was on target again as they extended the lead to 24 points – and Britain reached the 90-point mark in the final minute to conclude their Olympic adventure with a historic victory.