Erik Murphy makes Finland debut

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HELSINKI (FIBA Basketball World Cup) – Finland squared off against Lithuania in a game on Monday to mark the 75th anniversary of the Finnish Basketball Federation and the national team.

In a friendly between two sides preparing for the FIBA Basketball World Cup, the Lithuanians led from start to finish against Finland and won 90-81.

Erik Murphy, coming off his rookie season in the NBA, played his first game for Finland and did very well with nine points and five rebounds.

“It was great to get some real action in front of the home fans,” said Murphy.

“The players and the coaches have made it easier for me to do my job on the court and helped me off it.

“They have taken me in with open arms. I love the team chemistry that exists.”

As for how he is fitting in tactically, Murphy admitted there are some differences to the international game that he needs to adapt to.

“I’ve started to feel better with the system since arriving,” he said.

“I’ve still got more to learn.”

Finland coach Henrik Dettmann has spoken of the need for his team to take on quality opponents before the World Cup and Lithuania, who are No. 4 in the FIBA bwin Ranking Men and coming off a second-place finish at EuroBasket 2013, are just that.

Dettmann believes his squad will grow and get better over the coming weeks, including on the defensive side of the ball.

His main hope is that players avoid injuries before the start of his team’s World Cup Group C campaign in Bilbao, Spain.

They will take on the United States, Turkey, New Zealand, Ukraine and the Dominican Republic.

“The most important thing is that the players are in good shape and healthy when we start the World Cup,” he said.