Posts tagged "China"

Team Great Britain claims first Olympic basketball win since 1948

By James Jeffrey  |  BSU at the Games

Team Great Britain huddles on the court during their recent game against China.

Team Great Britain achieved a first in nearly 60 years on an Olympic basketball court – it claimed a victory. Team Great Britain beat No. 10 China 90-58 for its first win in the Olympic Games since 1948.

“Finally got that Win. So thankful to be a part of this GB team and so fortunate to have had such great support throughout the games,” Kieron Achara said via Twitter following the game.

Achara led the team with 16 points, six rebounds and three blocks. Nate Reinking —who is retiring from international competition after the Games — scored 12 points and Team GB captain Drew Sullivan scored 11. Both Pops Mensa-Bonsu and Mike Lenzly were out due to injury.

Only two Chinese players managed to hit double figures. Zhi-Zhi finished with 11 points and five rebounds while YI Jianlian, China’s only NBA player, finished with 11 points and 14 rebounds.

China grabbed an early 7-0 lead by making its first three shots, but it was the only lead they would have in the game. Joel Freeland, recently signed by the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers, helped Britain breech the initial gap with a hook shot over Jianlian. This ignited GB who ended the first quarter with a 20-5 run to take a 27-15 into the second quarter.

Britain outscored China every quarter the rest of the game and was never closely threatened due to the defensive efforts by Drew Sullivan and Kieron Achara. Team GB point guard Andrew Lawrence also helped space the floor with strong ball movement to keep them ahead.

Despite being the home nation, GB basketball did not claim automatic qualification for the games like in most Olympic sports. International basketball federation FIBA had to clear the team before it could compete in the event. This included proving they could be competitive at the Olympic level – which they did by winning FIBA group B. FIBA also mandated Team FB have a lasting legacy for basketball.

“I laugh when people say we were given our spot here in the Olympics because it sure didn’t feel like it when we were trying to get up through Division B and qualify for Europe. We really achieved something here,” Team GB head coach Chris Finch told the BBC.

“Our performances here, while they didn’t necessarily come with the results we were hoping for, came with a lot of potential to keep building the programme,” Finch continued. “I think we have a bright future. We’ve got a long way to go, but this is a good step. We answered every challenge that was thrown at us, but we fell a little short on this one. But it was incredibly satisfying professionally and personally.”

Finch and multiple other players retired after the game, including 38-year-old shooting guard Nate Keinking of the British Basketball League’s Sheffield Sharks and former NBA center Robert Archibald.

Despite competing in the 1948 Olympics, Britain’s current program only started in 2006.

“Great day for GB basketball, let’s make it the start, not the end of the journey,” basketball commentator John Amechi said via Twitter.

James Jeffrey is a junior journalism major at the University of Worcester in Worcester, England. He is a part of a team of British students contributing to BSU at the Games. Follow James and the program on Twitter @bsuatthegames and Facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Former Olympic medalist reminisces about Beijing Games

By Tyler Poslosky  |  BSU at the Games

2008 Team USA gymnast Samantha Pezsek during her floor routine at the 2012 NCAA Championships. Photo courtesy: Heather Maynez

Samantha Pezsek was 16 years old when she became a national celebrity as a member of the U.S. gymnastics team that won the silver medal during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

“Looking back, it’s all surreal that it was almost four years ago because in some sense it seems like it was yesterday, and in another sense it seems like it was a dream that hasn’t happened yet,” Pezsek said.

Wrapped up in her own routines and daily competitions, Pezsek had little time to soak in the overall experience of partaking in the Games.

“You’re so focused on your skills and your team,” Pezsek said. “You’re there for a job, so kind of enjoying the moment was hard to do because you’re so [concentrated] on your game at that point.”

Amidst all the anxiety and excitement of each competition, however, Pezsek tried to take a step back and realize how astonishing it was to take part in the Games at such a young age.

“I was meeting people like Kobe Bryant and Michael Phelps, people that are legends in their sports,” Pezsek said. “And to be classified with that group of people was the biggest shocker. I was like, ‘I’m only 16 years old. There’s no way that I’m here, [or] that this is possible, [or] that this is actually happening to me.’ It was awesome.”

Samantha’s mother, Luan, said watching her daughter compete in the Games was simply incredible.

“It makes me so proud to think that my daughter is an Olympian,” Luan Pezsek said. “All of those practices, clinics, private lessons, missed family dinners, missed school events, etc., had paid off for her.”

 

Pezsek competes on the balance beam during the 2012 NCAA Championships. Photo courtesy: Heather Maynez

On the eve of the competition, Samantha spoke to her mom on the phone and assured her that she would be competing in all four events the next day.

That’s when her body gave out. During the last warm-up event on the day of the competition, Pezsek suffered a severe ankle injury.

“I was doing a tumbling [routine],” Pezsek said. “I think I tore every ligament in my ankle and did everything possible to my ankle.”

Luan anxiously awaited for Samantha to march out of the locker room and into the arena with the rest of Team USA. But when Luan didn’t see her daughter take the floor with the rest of her team, she knew something was seriously wrong.

“I ran on the other side of the venue and found the USA coaches—then had to talk my way through the Chinese ushers to get to the [USA bench] since I didn’t have a credential—and asked why Sam was not competing,” Luan Pezsek said. “That’s when I found out.”

Hampered by her injured ankle, Pezsek fought through the pain, competing in one event en route to helping Team USA win the silver medal, which became Pezsek’s biggest thrill.

“The coolest part for me about the competition was walking into that arena and seeing more USA flags than Chinese flags, and just hearing everyone chant ‘USA, USA, USA,’” Pezsek said. “It was so cool knowing that everyone [was] behind [us] and had [our] back.”

While Samantha took her place on the podium, Luan stood up from her seat and was all smiles—the happiest mother in the arena that day.

“It was such a great feeling to watch Sam and her teammates on the awards podium and seeing the silver medals being placed around their necks,” Luan Pezsek said. “It was a dream come true for her to make the Olympic team and then to win a medal.”

Tyler Poslosky is a senior telecommunications and journalism news major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Tyler and the BSU team at @bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.