Great Britain have fulfilled their summer’s mission after sealing a spot in the qualifiers for EuroBasket 2021.

A comprehensive 101-79 victory over Kosovo in Manchester on Saturday was enough to ensure Nate Reinking’s side will top their pre-qualifying pool with one game remaining.

That sixth successive win sends GB onward into a tough group, beginning next February, which also includes powerhouses France, Montenegro and Germany.

And with a display which contained greater urgency and energy than in Reinking’s two initial contests at the helm, GB kept stretching their advantage following a 16-0 run in the opening period that immediately removed most concerns.

“These guys were mentally ready to come and play,” Reinking said. “They wanted to get the first punch against Kosovo, I think they did that, we established ourselves and continued that throughout the game.

“The guys play well together. The assist total (32) proves it – how they moved the ball and finding the extra man. It’s their team, their group and they came together unbelievably.

“They are getting better each game, they came out with great confidence.”

Myles Hesson, the stand-in captain once again in the absence of the injured Dan Clark, scored the game’s opening basket and it ignited yet another tone-setting performance from the forward, who collected 19 points, ten assists and nine rebounds.

Up 22-4, Reinking’s preaching of defence this week was heeded as the Kosovans were kept steadfastly at bay, unable to put together enough of a spurt to erase that deficit.

Hesson was aggressive, converting 8/9 from the foul line. Yet others found their range. Luke Nelson had conceded his frustrations at rustiness following an injury-plagued year but his sights were reset, converting 4/6 from three-point range while also scoring 19.

Gabe Olaseni too, who added 18 points, all factors as the hosts grew their cushion to 54-32 at half-time.

Luke Nelson looked back to his best (FIBA)

It became scrappy, almost inevitably. GB, seeking small improvements with one eye beyond 2019, were more locked in defensively with Gareth Murray a vital link off the bench as the Glasgow Rocks veteran added 12 as his side went 51% from the field.

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Down as much as 76-50 late in the third, the Kosovans toiled.

Dardan Berisha hit 19 points and gained 11 assists but, even amid a mini-revival in the fourth, he got few uncontested shots on the perimeter where the visitors shot below 24% from three-point range. Drilon Hajrizi also collected 19 but four players fouled out as Damir Mulaomerovic’s side ended with a 1-3 record from their group endeavours.

GB, who out-rebounded their rivals 41-27, are 3-0. Reinking is still unbeaten. The first leg of the return to respectability has been completed.

More reinvention lies ahead before February 21’s initial qualifier, away to the Montenegrins.

“We want to build for the future,” Murray said. “You never know what’s going to happen in the future but we have a group that wants to play at a higher level and do well.

“We’ve got a few guys like Dan Clark who have still to come in. Maybe other players who might be available. You want the best group together and if we can develop that chemistry as a team, then you’d hope we can progress even further.”

Game StatsUpdates

Game Notes

Eric Boateng returned to the GB line-up in place of Kingsley Okoroh but did not play. Dan Clark was still out with a knee injury. GB forward Ove Soko, fresh from Love Island, was in attendance.

Group standings: 1. Great Britain (3-0), 2. Kosovo (1-3), 3. Luxembourg (1-2)

Photo: FIBA/BB



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