GB TOO POTENT FOR MACEDONIA

Great Britain got off the mark in EuroBasket qualification by taking a 96-79 victory against Macedonia in London.

In a vastly improved display from their opener with Hungary, a combination of solid defensive hustle and a spread of offensive options provided the hosts with enough momentum to gradually pull away from their Group G rivals and ignite their campaign to reach next summer’s finals.

“It was a really important game for us,” said centre Eric Boateng, who had a team-high 18 points. “We’ve been working on a lot of stuff and it just felt reassuring for it to manifest itself in this game. We played well.”

After trading leads eight times during the opening period, a 9-0 run during a dominant second quarter provided the vital foundation for Joe Prunty’s men to build on and, after sweeping 50-43 in front at half-time at third-full Copper Box Arena, they tightened their grip.

“In Hungary, we were awful at times,” GB captain Kieron Achara admitted. “Here we didn’t get off to a great start but we stuck with it.

“And at no point did we lose sight of what we needed to do. Every point counts and we know that. So we stuck with our game plan. We moved the ball.”

With Ben Gordon acting as an effective playmaker as well as grabbing a team-high 17 points and nine rebounds, Boateng producing perhaps his finest game in a GB jersey, and Achara chipping in with a piercing outside threat at head up a rock solid bench contribution, the hosts repeatedly broke down their foes in the fourth.

And they will take ample confidence into Wednesday’s clash with Luxembourg back at the same venue with their advantage peaking at 96-77 in the closing minute.

“In this pool, you have to come ready to play on any given night,” Prunty said. “We did improve. The first quarter, we witnessed 30-28 which is an extremely high scoring quarter.

“I felt that they made some tough shots and we were in position most times – but they still scored. So we’ll look at the film and try to improve.

“They did shoot 50% from the field, and 32% from three so we’ll have to clean that up and find how to get better.”

Vodjan Stojanovski hit a game-best 28 points for Macedonia.

Elsewhere in Group G, Hungary retained top spot by hammering Luxembourg 89-64.

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

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