Great Britain had little difficulty putting away Division B side Netherlands in an opening match of the summer programme that suggested competition for places at Eurobasket will be extremely fierce.
The 96-70 win in a friendly in Cobham came with conspicuous ease after the teams had split the first quarter 19-19 and the hosts had taken a first double-digit lead (38-28) with a Kyle Johnson three-pointer late in the second quarter
Ryan Richards led the scoring with 16 points, including two three-pointers in an assured-looking 11 minutes, Johnson added 14 points and Eric Boateng – the first half catalyst – chipped in 13 points and six rebounds. Matthew Bryan-Amaning looked sharp in scoring 10 points.
The Dutch worked hard and were well-drilled enough but GB – even without frontliners Nate Reinking, Flinder Boyd, Jason Robinson and returnee Mike Lenzly who sat and watched – always looked to have too many options.
Encouragingly for coach Chris Finch and the GB programme generally, a lot of these players were young and new to the senior ranks.
“It should be interesting over the next few days to watch these guys battle it out,” he said.
“We sat out three experienced guys today and it’s really important that as a coaching staff we get this right.”
“That was like our under-23s out there with Kieron (Achara) and the points kept on ticking over and that’s really encouraging for the programme itself,” added captain Andrew Sullivan.
“We’ve got some extremely talented young players right now. That’s what you want.”
Right now I’ve got to make sure that I’m out there on the floor.”
This time last year, a patchwork Canada development side made Finch’s squad look very raw in their opening game of the summer and an ill-tempered game against Finland wasn’t much better. This year’s opener was much better and Finch praised the players for this.
“We’ve just done a much better job of coming into camp in better shape and being able to compete off the bat in our first game,” he said. “That showed a little bit more today than it did a year ago.”
GB host Nigeria on Tuesday.
Gordon set to bail on Euros
British Basketball officials have admitted it is now likely that Detroit Pistons guard Ben Gordon will withdraw from Britain’s squad for the third successive summer.
The London-born player’s arrival has been held up by insurance problems caused by the NBA lockout. And although a deal has been done for Luol Deng, performance director Chris Spice concedes that Gordon is a probable absentee for EuroBasket.
“We’ll know on Monday but it is looking unlikely,” Spice told the BBC.
“In the end we have not been able to afford the same level of cover he would get in a normal year in an NBA deal.”
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