Great Britain must wait a bit longer to clinch a spot in next summer’s EuroBasket finals. It may now even go to the wire. They were thrashed 75-56 by Macedonia in Skopje following a woeful display that lowers their record to 5-1.

Pops Mensah-Bonsu hit 17 points and 13 rebounds for GB, who never recovered after trailing 43-27 at half-time, and who must now recover their composure – and quickly – to make sure this drama does not become a crisis.

“All credit to Macedonia tonight. They played a great game,” said GB head coach Chris Finch, whose pre-game calls for his side to be on their guard appeared to fall on deaf ears.

“In some ways, we felt this loss coming. We lacked focus tonight and we will have to get that back in Liverpool. We played better in the second half and got some open shots, but we just couldn’t knock down any open jumpers.”

In truth, it was an erratic performance from the visitors who fell away badly after the powerful Macedonians reeled off eight unanswered points in the opening period. Although Kieron Achara hit a three-pointer to cut the gap to 27-21 early in the second, the hosts long-range shooting provided a decisive impetus, Darko Sokolov hitting successive threes with Todor Gechevski adding another as Macedonia surged clear, opening up a destructive 16-point cushion at the interval when Bo McCalebb delivered an emphatic dunk.

GB wasted too many free throws and made too many mistakes to stand a chance of recovering and they never came closer than 11 midway through the third period. At one point,  Luol Deng had twice as many turnovers as points in a rare sub-par showing. His misery was contagious.

Although the Chicago Bulls forward scored 8 of his 14 in the fourth quarter, it was too little, too late. He was utterly out-shone by American-born forward McCalebb who hit a game-high 20 as the Macedonians (5-2) moved into top spot in the group, building a cushion that peaked at 69-40 with six minutes left before a late burst removed some of the sting from the guests’ embarrassment.

A Deng three-pointer sparked a 9-0 run and the hosts were kept scoreless for almost four minutes with Achara converting a consolatory lay-up in the dying seconds as the raucous home crowd stood in applause.

Elsewhere in the group, Bosnia (2-4), who meet Britain in Liverpool on Thursday, battled to a 73-64 win over Hungary (2-5). The result means that GB cannot cement a spot in Lithuania next summer as group winners if they beat the Bosnians in their penultimate game. However they could still guarantee themselves a place in the finals as one of the best second-placed teams with a win on Merseyside, if other results go their way.

Notes: Hungary shot 18/37 2-pt and 10/24 3-pt. GB were 19/40 and 4/18, making just 6/17 free-throws, including 3/9 for Deng who finished with 8 turnovers. Dan Clark failed to score for the first time in this campaign.

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