The Great Britain men's national basketball team made history on Monday. (Getty Images)
Despite boasting a roster featuring only one established NBA star and no real point guard to speak of, Great Britain entered the final day of pool play in the men's basketball tournament at the 2012 Summer Olympics having come close to tasting victory a couple of times. While the British team did suffer blowout losses in its opener against Russia and on Saturday against Australia, coach Chris Finch's crew competed fiercely in its middle two contests, only to see late-game cold snaps and miscues lead to a five-point defeat by Brazil and a heartbreaking one-point loss to heavily favored Spain. Behind leading scorers Luol Deng, Joel Freeland and Pops Mensah-Bonsu, the British team had fought hard and drawn near, but had yet to score a W.
Already eliminated from knockout-stage contention, Great Britain took the only prize left for it on Monday afternoon, scoring a 90-58 victory over China that not only allowed the Brits to avoid a winless turn as the host nation of the 2012 Summer Games, but also marked the British men's national team's first victory at the Olympics since Aug. 12, 1948, when they beat Ireland, 46-21. (I think we all remember where we were when that contest went final.)
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And even that win came only in the so-called "classification round" — essentially, a slew of non-tournament consolation games played just to determine the final order of the 23 nations that competed. So when the Agence France-Presse notes that "Britain won a basketball game for the first time in Olympic history" on Monday, they're technically on the money.
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