GB ARE EUROBASKET BOUND

Great Britain earned a place in next summer’s EuroBasket finals despite losing 82-75 to Luxembourg in their final qualifier.

Results elsewhere on Saturday went GB’s way in their quest to end up as one of the best four group runners-up, sending them into a major showpiece for the first time since 2013.

Even though the result of their clash with Luxembourg was mathematically irrelevant, Joe Prunty’s side ended with a sub-par performance as a 25-6 run in the second half eroded a lead that had grown to 49-39 early in the third quarter and propelled the minnows to their first win in over 15 years despite a haul of 14 points and 15 rebounds from Gabe Olaseni.

“It’s been a long road to qualify,” GB captain Kieron Achara said. “Getting to EuroBasket was the most important thing. That’s what we set out to accomplish. We played hard. Did what we needed to do. And we’re going.”

“Credit tonight where it’s due to Luxembourg. They were phenomenal. They pressed. They were hungry. They wanted it more than us. You could see that. And they out-hustled us and shot the ball extremely well.”

Andrew Lawrence scored a team-best 16 for GB who ended with a 3-3 record and were left to celebrate when they found out their fate as they headed off the floor and could begin looking towards next summer with a sliver of hope.

“It’s a hard game because you’ve done every thing you can in terms of trying to qualify, in terms of other results,” Joe Prunty said. “But it’s a tremendous accomplishment and the players deserve all the credit.

“We have become a very good team. But we have to realise every single time you step on the floor, you’re being evaluated and you have to prove yourself. The loss is disappointing. But we had a goal and we accomplished it.”

Yet they will need much better than this next summer with turnovers and a fatal lack of execution sparking what was an embarrassing reverse to a team of part-timers, most of whom spend their days working in banking.

With several free agents in the GB squad as new seasons loom throughout Europe, there were audition tapes most would rather erase.

“I don’t want to say we switched off,” Prunty conceded. “In the first half we were aggressive, in the second half, they became the aggressor. In a lot of times, that’s the way games fall out regardless of the circumstances. They became the aggressor in the second half.

“We had a ten-point lead, we gave up an easy lay-up and then just throw the ball away… and then they go down and hit a three. You can’t do that. That’s one of the things we’ve talked about during the whole campaign.”

 

Andrew Lawrence finished off a superb campaign

Andrew Lawrence finished off a superb campaign

24 teams qualify for EuroBasket 2017, with the draw taking place in Istanbul on 22 November.

They will form four pools of six for the group phase, which takes place in Istanbul (Abdi Ipekci Arena), Helsinki (Hartwall Arena), Tel Aviv (Menora Mivtachem Arena) & Cluj-Napoca (Polyvalent Hall).

The knockout stage – including the final – will be played at the 16,000 capacity Sinan Erdem Dome in Istanbul.

Earlier, Slovenia defeated Ukraine 80-69 to boost GB’s hopes but Iceland’s 74-68 win over Belgium meant GB’s next qualification route rested on further permutations that went their way.

A combination of Germany’s shock 82-51 demolition of the Netherlands and Denmark’s 86-70 victory over Austria was enough to mathematically secure their spot in next summer’s showpiece along with fellow runners-up Montenegro, Iceland and Ukraine.

Hungary defeated Macedonia 63-61 to win Group G with a 6-0 record.

Standings: 1. Hungary 6-0, 2. Great Britain 3-3, 3. Macedonia 2-4, 4. Luxembourg 1-5

Game statsTwitter – Photos: Mansoor Ahmed

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