Great Britain got their FIBA World Cup qualifying campaign off to a winning start with a 78-69 win over Greece in Newcastle on Thursday night.
It took three quarters for GB to burst into life, but once they found their stride, their more established Greek counterparts were unable to contain them.
Offensively, the hosts shot a sublime 9/16 from three-point land. Defensively, they were fearless, they were together and they were composed. For Great Britain fans, it was a joy to watch.
Cheshire Phoenix guard Teddy Okereafor hit four of those three-pointers, en route to a team-high 19 points. His fourth, and final three with 8:26 remaining, gave GB a 59-57 lead that they never relinquished as they secured a first win over Greece since 1984.
“My team was behind me, we had one goal and four days to prepare and everybody played together, stuck together and made plays down the stretch to win the game,” Okereafor, who made history by surpassing Bill McInnes’ record by playing his 50th straight GB game, told BBC Sport afterwards.
“It was a good win, a much needed win but we got another [game] on Sunday though,” added Tarik Phillip, who supported with 16 points but instantly wanted to erase any thoughts of the victory and instead move on to Sunday’s game against Turkey in Istanbul.
Even without Greece’s superstar players that earn their trade in the NBA and EuroLeague, led by Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, on paper, most will consider Great Britain’s win an upset.
Greece led for the majority of those first three quarters, but lacked any real execution throughout this contest and the moment Great Britain took the lead early in the fourth; it was as if they had nothing left.
Dimitrios Agravanis’ 19 points along with 14 from Nikos Gkikas provided sustenance but as the game wore on, their efforts faded. They were tired. Greece looked tired.
They now look to bounce back at home to Belarus on Sunday.