Eurobasket: Great Britain beat Poland in final match

By Rob DugdaleBBC Sport in Lithuania

Great Britain made their expected exit from Eurobasket despite producing an 88-81 win in an exciting final group game against Poland in Panevezys.

Luol Deng again led the GB scorers with 28 points and Joel Freeland added 27, including hitting all 12 of his shots.

GB lost their first three games against the top seeds in the group, but finished with two successive wins.

"We just won a close one against a great team," said Freeland. "We're happy to be able to pull that one out."

GB's elimination at the first stage of the tournament - albeit in a difficult group - raises concerns as to how the team will fare in London 2012.

"We wanted to take a step forward and I think we did that," coach Chris Finch told BBC Sport. "We beat the teams that we should have beaten and competed with the others for the most part except for the Turkey game."

Finch is fond of describing the programme as 'a process' and said things have been learned from the team's two Eurobasket experiences that will help in next year's Olympics.

"We learned that when you play against the best teams in the world, four or five minutes of mistake-laden basketball is going to hurt you," he said.

"We need to have the whole team together from day one," said Freeland. "In the Olympics, we don't want to go there and be the joke of the tournament. We're going there to compete as a team and to win."

GB lost close games against Serbia, Australia and Croatia in the London Olympic test event and performed creditably in Panevezys against Lithuania and Spain before dominating Portugal and edging Poland.

Finch also reported that he has heard little talk around the tournament suggesting GB are undeserving of their Olympic place.

"I just hope that teams and coaches appreciate how hard we try to fight with basketball here," he said. "We've had a lot of support from the big countries - Spain have been very supportive for the last few years and Turkey have been very good friends to us too."

Freeland, who had described the Turkey defeat as "embarrassing" earlier in the week, still rated GB's overall Eurobasket performance highly.

"We're taking steps forward - you can't rush things like this," he said. "You saw in 2009 we couldn't get any wins at all - now we've got two. We're going to knuckle down and pull out all the stops to make sure we have a good tournament next year."

The result came after GB made an assured start to post a 10-2 run and then expanded their lead through aggressive offensive rebounding, especially by Dan Clark.

Deng's three before the interval gave GB a 39-31 half-time lead but their first-half poise started to disappear when Poland came back strongly and Robert Archibald and Mike Lenzly were both called for technical fouls for showing dissent.

The fourth quarter was tense until Lenzly hit a three to give GB a 78-77 lead and Freeland and Deng added baskets.

Freeland then confirmed that it was his night for shooting the ball by splashing a three-pointer from the corner with 53 seconds left to secure the win.