Great Britain beat Montenegro 74-59 to boost their EuroBasket 2022 qualifying hopes.

Claiming the head-to-head and avenging this year’s reverse in Podgorica, this was as vital a triumph as they come.

A terrific defensive performance too in unison in addition to frequent scoring sprees led by a game-high 28 points from Gabe Olaseni.

And having been on the wrong side of a battering by France less than 48 hours before, the difference was marked.

“Our parameters didn’t change,” said head coach Marc Steutel. “All the groups are tough but we think this is a particularly tough group. We just beat a really good basketball team there, along with France and Germany.

“This is a really difficult group. The reality is that in this window, we were always going to be judged by this game. We knew the challenges of that. I didn’t say anything different. They are grown men, they are professionals and are very committed to the cause. And I felt the guys showed an exceptional leadership.”

Montenegro, with a chance to land a win that would have secured qualification for the finals, found admirable resistance at each turn.

And although an early GB lead was trimmed markedly to 40-37 at half-time, a strong push in the second half was filled with resilience with Myles Hesson adding 15 points and Luke Nelson 13.

Credit to Steutel, said Olaseni, who had to keep this team together and nursed them through this challenge.

“I’ve been part of GB for a few years now,” he said. “I’ve loved every minute. There’s always been talk about the coaching staff, whether they are committed or 100% behind us. We saw a lot of the chatter after the last game against France.

“Personally, if a team gets beaten by 30 points that’s not down to the coaches. That’s down to effort and execution. We had as good game plan last game and we weren’t able to execute against a good France team. But if you lose by 30 in a blowout, if you don’t come out with defensive intensity, that’s not on the coaching staff.”

One window left. Games against Germany and France sit between GB and a summer of potential in 2022, although now the BBF must find the money for February, cash currently not accounted for.

The players can only look to do their part – with wins.

“Hopefully we can get two,” Olaseni underlined.

Game StatsUpdates

Earlier, France moved to the brink of qualification by beating Germany 86-74, pulling away in the second half.

Notes Kareem Queeley earned his first senior GB cap. GB starters v Montenegro: Okereafor, Nelson, Mockford, Hesson, Olaseni

Group G Standings: 1. France (3-1), 2. Great Britain (2-2), 3. Montenegro (2-2), 4. Germany (1-3). Germany automatically prequalify as co-hosts. Two highest other teams also earn berths at the 2022 finals.

Photos: FIBA

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