HUNGARY STARVE GB IN EURO OPENER

Great Britain were crushed 96-77 by Hungary in their opening EuroBasket 2017 qualifier in Kecskemet.

The national side’s first competitive outing in two years resembled their last, 40 minutes of regular defensive breakdowns, spells where estrangement trumped chemistry and where a lack of hustle at either end proved costly.

The hosts, quite simply, fought harder and battled smarter, and Joe Prunty’s men could not adequately respond, a worrying trait in the wake of five successive losses in the build-up that failed to generate any momentum.

“The bottom line in that game tonight was that our defence was not up to standard,” the GB head coach said. “We gave them too many situations where they could make big plays, big baskets without any stops. They were quicker to the ball tonight. The bottom line is that we need to do a better job defensively.

“It’ll be a different game against Macedonia so we’ll have to prepare for that – but some of the core things about our defence have to be significantly better.”

Dan Clark and Andrew Lawrence each scored a team-high 22 points but offensively, any help was sporadic during a contest that slipped beyond the visitors reach in the second period.

Trailing 25-22 after ten minutes, GB allowed the Hungarians to drive into the paint at will during an 11-2 run and further lapses saw their cushion increase to 53-41 at half-time.

In the early stages, Prunty saw his side leave open gaps by switching too much. Later, the paths were cleared by moving too little and their rivals ruthlessly exploited their room to manoeuvre.

A 6-0 British run briefly stung as they reduced the deficit to 67-58 but although Lawrence scored 12 in the third period, the spark was never lit with former NBA guard Ben Gordon going 0-for-8 in his full debut.

And Hungary, paced by 32 points and 7 boards from Baskonia forward Adam Hanga, were able to coast as much as 96-75 clear in a barrage.

Prunty now takes his squad back to the UK for three consecutive home games at London’s Copper Box, starting on Saturday with the visit of Macedonia – who easily defeated Luxembourg 89-75.

Much better will be required.

“We let them go pretty much anywhere on the floor they wanted and get into a rhythm – and when you allow that to happen, guys who aren’t usually involved as part of their team have big nights – which really kills you,” Lawrence admitted.

“We have to refocus – not forget this game, we have to take it into account and not let it happen again.”

updates – Game stats

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