- National Teams
Great Britain’s Senior Men have boosted their hopes of qualifying for EuroBasket 2017 after defeating Macedonia 89-62 in their penultimate game, in Kavadarci on Wednesday evening.
Joe Prunty’s side now have a 3-2 record and have secured a second place finish in Group G, but must wait to find out their fate as one of the four best-ranked runners-up out of seven.
GB are in a favourable position with their 2-2 (+17) rank amongst the current group runners-up with positions still likely to change around them on the final gameday of the qualifiers.
Dan Clark stepped up with a 21-point haul to lead all scorers, while Andrew Lawrence added 14 points and Gabe Olaseni weighed in with 13 points and eight rebounds.
“It’s a testament to the character of our team,” said Prunty after the game. “How hard we’ve battled. I thought we got great effort from a lot of players and particularly on the defensive end.
“We’ve talked about being a defensive team first and then trying to push the ball and play with pace on the offensive end.”
Macedonia opened with the first five points of the game, but Clark scored six in an 8-0 reply for GB to get the visitors going. Teddy Okereafor netted a pull-up three in transition to make it 15-9 past the midpoint and GB’s advantage would be 21-14 after 10 minutes.
Clark netted five points to move to 11 points in the second as GB narrowly increased their lead with Olaseni’s basket making it a double-digit differential at 32-22.
The home side hit back-to-back threes, but GB scored the final six points of the half to go into half-time with a 44-30 cushion. Olaseni and Eric Boateng had 11 combined rebounds to help their side control the glass (26-15).
Clark started the second half with his third three of the game, and GB maintained their control in the early stages with a lead as large as 17. However, an 8-0 run helped Macedonia cut the gap and they closed to within six at 51-57.
GB responded with a 10-2 close to the third, capped by a huge 3-pointer by Clark before the buzzer to take him to 21 points, at 67-53.
The run continued at the start of the fourth with the first seven points going GB’s way to extend the gap beyond 20 points. Ben Gordon netted back-to-back triples to help the visitors wrap up a convincing win in style.
GB complete their qualifying campaign against Luxembourg, away, on Saturday.
The result will not count towards GB’s second-place ranking as results against teams that finish fourth are not included given there are some groups with only three teams in.
Full breakdown of the different scenarios needed for GB to qualify can be found here.