Olympics: British give Brazil a scare before falling
Tiago Splitter of the NBA San Antonio Spurs scored 21 points and Marcelinho Huertas added 13 points to lift Brazil level with Spain and Russia atop Group B at 2-0. Britain joined China and Australia at 0-2.
"When you face adversity like that and you still win, that makes you stronger," Huertas said.
Britain's Pops Mensah-Bonsu had 13 points and 12 rebounds while Nate Reinking added 13 points and Luol Deng of the NBA Chicago Bulls 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
"We played at a high level," British coach Chris Finch said. "To be in position to win the game in the last four minutes, I was pleased. If you put yourself there enough times you can win."
Two free throws by Splitter gave Brazil a 56-51 lead, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Deng gave Britain a 57-56 edge with 3:56 remaining and put the Olympic hosts within reach of a stunning upset.
Splitter sank a layup, Marquinhos Veira Sousa followed with a 3-pointer and Nene Hilario of the NBA Washington Wizards slammed in a dunk to give the South Americans a six-point cushion.
"We didn't have a good night shooting the ball but we still hit important threes at the end of the game," Splitter said.
Joel Freeland got a basket on a goaltending call against Hilario but Splitter answered with a layup, then Deng was fouled by Alex Garcia attempting a 3-point shot, sending Deng to the free throw line for three crucial attempts.
Deng made only 1-of-3, trimming Brazil's lead to 65-60, but Huertas followed with two free throws to seal Britain's fate.
"We were fighting the whole way," Reinking said. "It just comes down to making plays. We just have to break through and get a win."
Their next chance comes Thursday against reigning European champion Spain.
"We're not here for people to tell us we did a good job," Britain's Drew Sullivan said. "We're here to win games. We didn't get it done in the end."
Britain seized a surprise 11-4 lead after a first quarter in which neither side found a shooting touch, the Brazilians hitting a miserable 2-of-20 shots from the field in the period while the Olympic hosts were a woeful 4-of-15.
"That never happened to me before in my life, to score only four points in a quarter," Brazil coach Magnano Ruben said.
The game was deadlocked 27-27 at half-time and stayed tight in the third quarter, Britain making 5-of-6 from the field to open the second half while Brazil missed 5-of-7 free throws to open the third quarter.
"It's clear we won the match thanks to our defence," Ruben said.
Dan Clark hit a 3-pointer and Reinking followed with an inside jumper and a 3-pointer to put Britain ahead 51-50 with 7:18 remaining, a wild cheer erupting from a sellout crowd.
"We just have to learn how to play down the stretch a bit better and get a victory," Clark said. "The fans were great. It doesn't get much better."