Great Britain ended Eurobasket 2011 on a high with a 88-81 victory over Poland.
In a game where the Brits had to beat Poland by 55 points or more, qualification was always a near impossible task.
Same goes for Poland, who were knocked out, as they needed nothing short of a win to qualify.
Joel Freeland put in his best performance of the summer with a 27 point, 11 rebound double-double without missing a single shot.
The Malaga forward even hit a corner three late in the fourth. But was still disappointed with his overall performance in the tournament.
“All-in-all, I’m not very happy with my overall performance personally in the whole Eurobasket,” Freeland admitted.
“As a team though, I think we did really well, especially these last two games, we had an unlucky draw. We had to play three of the world’s best.”
Great Britain started like a team that wanted to beat Poland by 55, by racing out to a 10-2 lead, going on a 10-0 run to start. Poland found their feet, starting with a Adam Lapeta dunk.
The hero from Poland’s win over Turkey, Dardan Berisha cut GB’s lead to 12-9, but Britain rallied and led after one 18-17.
Freeland finished off a fantastic all-round offence to give GB a 20-17 advantage, but Poland grabbed the lead thanks to a bucket from Berisha (23-22).
Poland though dropped their heads and re-took the lead. Dan Clark highlighted the second quarter by tipping in his own miss and getting fouled in the process. Poland ooked rattled and called a timeout.
They forced a turnover to end the half, but Poland were still down 39-31 at the interval.
A Freeland bucket, plus the foul gave the Brit’s a double-digit lead at 41-31, but two technicals – one on Robert Archibald – and a few minutes later, one on Mike Lenzly put Poland back into the contest and even lead to set up a grandstand finish. GB down 56-55.
It was Chris Finch’s side that held their nerve to get the win. Poland’s shots weren’t dropping, their heads down.
GB’s win was sealed with a rare Freeland three to put the game fully out of Poland’s reach.
“I was extremely proud of the way they played today,” Finch said. “Our goal after the first three games was to certainly win the last two, build some momentum and end on a high note.”
Luol Deng also recorded a double-double for the third time at Eurobasket, with 28 points and 14 rebounds. Berisha hit 19 for Poland.