Great Britain kept their hopes of automatically making the next round of EuroBasket 2021 qualification alive with a 84-47 rout of Cyprus.

It means Alberto Lorenzo’s men now need to beat Austria by 15 points or more on Sunday to top their group – or drop into a last-gasp round in August.

But the hosts never looked troubled in Manchester once they had accelerated clear with a 20-6 first quarter run with Myles Hesson, inserted into the starting line-up, carving out a game-high 18 points.

“We have to be happy with the result, the most important thing for today was the win and we got that,” said GB captain Dan Clark.

”But secondly, we had the right attitude and we approached the game in the right way. Sometimes these games can be a bit of a bogey game but we approached it in the right way with the right mentality, we took care of business basically. I think we have great potential as a team but I think things like this and taking this mentality forward to different games will help us in the future. Although it looks like this was an easy game I think this in the future will be something we can learn off and take it into future games.”

Pushing the pace offensively and smothering the paint on defence with the twin towers of Gabe Olaseni and Ovie Soko, GB were able to manhandle the Cypriots out of any rhythm.

Carl Wheatle, just 20 but brimming with confidence, hit seven unanswered points in the second to extend the advantage to 39-20 and Soko chipped in to widen the gap to 45-24 at half-time.

Some regression inevitably came. Early in the third, the Cypriots pulled out an 8-0 run. However Hesson rolled back the tide and with debutant Conner Washington adroitly controlling the tempo, Britain were simply able to prepare for their Viennese waltz.

The returning Kyle Johnson teed up a three-way play that saw Wheatle feed Soko for a highlight reel slam.

Solo in a jam

He visibly lapped up the din. A night when, despite the ever-present threat of implosion for the sport off the court, the players generated worthy noise.

And a 18-0 run over almost six minutes, with Wheatle once more shining to take his scoring tally to 14, only added further polish.

GB Head coach Alberto Lorenzo: “We’re happy about the result, but more about the basketball we played, especially on defence and in the 2nd quarter. We started switching on all the guys, and everyone was involved and committed on defence, so I think that’s the key for the game. It’s more about tactically, it’s more about the way the guys were involved on defence as a team.”

Tyrell Biggs and Andreas Sizopoulos had 11 points apiece for Cyprus who finish bottom of the group without a victory.

Game Stats

Notes: GB starters v Cyprus: Okereafor, Lawrence, Hesson, Soko, Olaseni – Conner Washington won his first cap.

Photos: Mansoor Ahmed

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