BENCH MOB ARE GB’S HITMEN

Great Britain eventually shook off Luxembourg to strengthen their bid to reach next summer’s EuroBasket finals with a 95-72 victory in London.

In front of another sparce crowd at the Copper Box, Joe Prunty’s men toiled for long spells in the first half but eventually found some momentum off their bench in the second, with Andrew Lawrence and the unlikely figure of Will Saunders providing a much needed lift as the hosts eventually pulled clear with Eric Boateng’s dunk on the final buzzer adding an emphatic last stamp on a clash that, for long spells, posed ample questions for the hosts.

“This pool is extremely difficult and you have to show up every night because the team you’re going up against is very talented and very capable of doing some damages as you saw in the first half,” Prunty said.

“Luxembourg played extremely hard in fact harder than we did in that stretch and turnovers were a big factor. Our defence was a big factor in the second half, we were able to force a few turnovers which led to some easy baskets for us which helped us to increase the lead.

“Offensively I like the way we shared the ball as a team, 23 assists and we were making the right plays most of the time.”

Up 31-19 after a 7-0 run, GB found themselves speedily under pressure with a 9-1 Luxembourg burst forcing a timeout. Although Ben Gordon ignited a mini-spurt, another nine points without reply slashed the visitors deficit to 43-41 at half-time before they drew level immediately after the break with errors mounting and effort seemingly scaled back from their fancied rivals.

Yet GB eventually shook off the winless group minnows with a 9-2 run in the third quarter and then consolidated their advantage with a spell of 11 unanswered points that erased any possibility of an upset, their shackles eventually squeezing the life out of their foes’ challenge.

And with Kyle Johnson shooting 5-for-6 from the field to claim 14 points in addition to ten rebounds – and Lawrence scoring 13 – their side retained second place in the pool behind Hungary with a 2-1 record.

The unbeaten Hungarians, who come to London on Saturday, pulled away in the fourth quarter to take a 76-66 victory in Macedonia behind 27 points from David Vojvoda.

Alex Laurent had a game-high 30 points for Luxembourg.

Standings: 1. Hungary (3-0), 2. Great Britain (2-1), 3. Macedonia (1-2), 4. Luxembourg (0-3)

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Pic: Mansoor Ahmed

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