Great Britain stunned Germany 81-73 to pick up an opening EuroBasket qualifying win in Newcastle.

A terrific team performance with Luke Nelson stellar in providing a game-high 26 points on 10-for-19 shooting.

What a transformation from Montenegro on Friday. A much livelier performance in every way. More ball movement. Better rotation on defence. An extra spring in the step.

And a late 17-2 run secured a priceless triumph.

“It’s a great momentum builder,” said Dan Clark. Validation for stand-in head coach Marc Steutel, who picked up a personal victory.

“I haven’t slept a lot,” he admitted. “I’ve had a lot of coffee. But I’ve loved it just because of the challenge. It has been a massive challenge. I told myself I was aware of the challenge but until you live and breathe it, I’m not sure you are.”

Trading leads in the opening quarter, GB trailed 20-13 before the energetic Ovie Soko threw himself into the paint and knocked the Germans back on their heels, hitting eight of his 18 points in the period.

After missing their opening six three-point attempts, the home side got their first from Nelson to trim the German lead to 24-22 early in the second.

The Spain-based guard scored eight points in a row, including a tough floater, in a 10-0 run that put GB ahead and then added a four-point play amid his personal barrage.

The guests briefly levelled. GB lent on their hot hands. At one point, Nelson and Soko were a combined 10/17 from the field with their cohorts a mere 1/12.

But at half-time Nelson had scored 18 and his side were 40-39 in front.

“We all know the talent Luke has and the potential Luke has,” said Clark. “We’ve been waiting for one of these games from Luke for a while now. He’s got it in him.”

Five lead changes quickly came upon the restart.

And then an 11-2 run from Germany, including two threes from Andreas Obst – who had 24 points – which advanced them 54-46 clear with 4:31 left in the third.

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Steutel called time out. His team were still down by five netting the fourth.

But, with the Newcastle crowd creating that rare beast – a partisan home British support – an 8-2 start to the quarter bloated by threes from Clark and Ben Mockford provided a vital GB lead.

Bennet Hundt snatched it back for the visitors.

Myles Hesson, hitherto struggling mightily with his shot, adeptly converted an offensive rebound and then Nelson returned off the bench to drain another three that had Steutel’s men 69-68 in front and rolling.

A dunk from Hesson from Mockford’s precision pass raised the volume and he then turned provider as Soko elevated and slammed.

Adding ten rebounds, it was an evening to remind us that he is a fabulous basketballer, even as his celebrity propels him to fantastical riches.

Mockford came up big again. Another three. “He was key at both ends of the floor,” Steutel declared. “We’ve always known he has a pair of balls in him,” added Clark. “Ben never backs down from the fight.”

Hesson matched him with a three, point for point, alive when it counted most.

“We finished the game with a slightly difference line-up based on feel,” Steutel added. “I felt we had a good balance of experience out there but ut was based on defensive presence.” It worked exceedingly well.

Down 79-70 with 58.8 seconds left, the Germans called a time out.

The gulf was too big. GB eased onto a victory provides real hope of reaching EuroBasket 2021.

“There’s a good chance to have a really good run at it,” Clark underlined.

“It’s a good learning experience,” said Germany coach Henrik Rodl. “We have a very young team and it showed in some situations. When the going gets tough, we sometimes made poor decisions.”

Game StatsUpdates

Earlier in Group G, France produced a late run to beat Montenegro 86-55.

GB starters v Germany: Okereafor, Nelson, Hesson, Soko, Olaseni
Group table: 1. Germany (1-1), 2. Montenegro (1-1), 3. Great Britain (1-1), 4. France (1-1)

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