07 Mar 14
With a growing number of British players involved in US college basketball, there has never been a better time to take an interest in the conclusion of the NCAA's regular season.
"We battled once the game got going, but we needed to get it from the start," Prunty said. "We got our rhythm back, cut it to one but in the second quarter it was tough for us. I was proud of the fight we had in the second half, our guys tried to compete. We were trying to pressure, trying to get more possessions in the game. But it was a great effort by Ukraine."
Devon van Oostrum and Kieron Achara led Great Britain with 12 points each with Andrew Lawrence adding 10.
A triple from Dan Clark cancelled out an early score from Kyryl Natyazhko in the opening two possessions of the game. Both teams started at a frantic pace, Clark connected again from deep to tie the score at 6-6 but Ukraine had the better of the opening exchanges, leading 17-10 before Prunty called a timeout.
Lottery funded GB surged back and a three from Achara on the buzzer narrowed the deficit to 21-18 after the first ten minutes.
A three from Glasgow Rocks' Gareth Murray narrowed the gap to 23-21 early in the second quarter, but Ukraine carried on moving the ball and getting open shots, while limiting GB's options on offense, resulting in coach Prunty calling another timeout.
GB finished the second quarter strongly, a three from Kyle Johnson, followed by a basket from young star van Oostrum kept the Brits in touch, but Ukraine held a 48-31 lead at half-time.
Their advantage was extended to 55-31 early in the third, before Myles Hesson earned two points from the foul line. Drew Sullivan put Ukraine guard Pooh Jeter on three fouls, with the Leicester Riders' forward converting both free throws.
Successive scores from Lawrence kept GB in the contest, but Ukraine's size and ball movement gave them a 70-51 advantage heading into the final quarter.
Ogo Adegboye got GB started on a fast break in the final period as the Brits picked up the defensive intensity.
A three-pointer from Achara narrowed the gap to 74-60 and GB started to believe that the deficit could be overturned.
Ukraine though, were too strong around the perimeter and an 8-0 run pushed the lead back up to 80-60, leaving GB with too big of a mountain to climb.
However, the emergence of younger players such as Hesson, van Oostrum and Lawrence bodes well for the team's long-term aim of being a medal contender at every major tournament. "If you play as a team, good things can happen," Achara said. "With the experience some of the younger guys have got at this tournament, it can help us in the future."
Ihor Zaytsev and Kyryl Natyazhko led a balanced Ukraine scoring attack with 11 points each.
Either Belgium or Israel will get the third qualification spot, depending on results later on Monday.
Warwick Cann, British Basketball National Teams Director, commented: "There is a well-known quote which is apt for this GB team: 'Coming together is a beginning, staying together is an accomplishment and achieving together is progress'.
"Most would recognise and certainly I agree that the team has grown, achieved the equal best result and introduced exciting youth who will contribute in 2020. As a group they have done the basketball community and our supporters proud. We look forward to 2014."