?Iceland turned out the lights on both the EuroBasket 2015 and Olympic aspirations of Great Britain's senior men, after taking a narrow 71-69 success in the 2nd Qualifying Round at the Copper Box Arena.
GB fail to reach 4th EuroBasket finals after Iceland defeat
The visitors achieved the biggest result in their nation's basketball history by completing the double over Great Britain to extinguish the hopes of head coach Joe Prunty and his players who slipped to a third straight defeat.
Leading by double-digits early in the third quarter, the home side allowed Iceland to turn the game on its head and couldn't rack up the maiden triumph which another big crowd in the capital were hoping for.
Turning to their greatest ever player in Jon Stefansson who missed the opening encounter in Reykjavik, the Icelandic legend returned to accumulate 23 points and inflict despair on his opponents, who had enjoyed a vibrant first-half.
The home side started the contest with their most capped player Drew Sullivan getting the opening basket and when Dan Clark scored from long-range, Great Britain were off to their first flying start of the summer and 12-6 ahead.
While Iceland then recovered to get their noses in front, five points from Kyle Johnson including a triple, had the home favourites 22-18 in front heading into the second period.
The momentum was still with Great Britain as Gareth Murray converted a three-pointer from the wing and things looked even better when Kieron Achara completed an 'and-1' play from a no-look pass by Devon Van Oostrum to hand the hosts a double-figure advantage.
A Devan Bailey three-pointer and then a one-handed dunk by Myles Hesson kept Great Britain on the front foot, with a pair of free-throws by Sullivan giving Great Britain a handy 38-28 advantage heading to the locker rooms.
Needing a positive start when the action resumed, Hesson nailed a couple of early scores from downtown, but as Iceland stepped up the defensive pressure, they ripped the initiative away from Great Britain. Despite spectacular blocks by Murray and Sullivan, they were unable to prevent the visitors pouring in 28 points during the third quarter which was part of a 10-0 run that continued into the last quarter.
As Great Britain fell 61-56 behind, their hopes of a fourth successive Finals appearance were fading, but Kieron Achara did his best to inspire a final swing of the pendulum with four points in a row - but Iceland kept making their shots.
In a thrilling finale, Clark and Hesson got Great Britain back to within a point, but Iceland showed composure to sink their free-throws during crunch time. And, as Clark threw up a last-ditch prayer on the buzzer from three-point range, it fell short and Great Britain's fate was sealed.
Clark finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Achara impressed with 15 points seven rebounds and four assists. Hesson and Sullivan also had efficient nights offensively, with a combined 22 points. A full set of game statistics can be found here.
It proved to be a difficult night for Coach Prunty who told gbbasketball.com, "I liked the effort we put out on the floor and especially in the first-half, when we were very much the aggressors."
"We were making a real push and had a good balance, but at the start of the third quarter they began to make some big shots and got far too many offensive rebounds."
"We lost our way defensively a bit, while offensively we just couldn't get the ball into post and we have to be able to move the ball much more quickly."
Great Britain wrap up their campaign in Sarajevo on Sunday when they will face Bosnia and Herzegovina, with Prunty insisting his team will be ready to try and bounce back.
He said, "We are competitors and these guys have battled from the moment we got here. There are no issues about us fighting in this last game and it is not just about pride."
"It is about more than that, because as ever, the players will be representing themselves, their team and their country."
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