Great Britain got a career night from Eric Boateng and solid individual showings from Ben Gordon and Andrew Lawrence as they defeated FYR of Macedonia 96-79 in the Eurobasket 2017 qualifiers at the CopperBox in London.
GB improved on their disappointing display in Hungary with a solid shooting display and improved defensive effort against a Macedonian side that were a shadow of what they were when they last visited England back in 2010 when the two sides produced an overtime thriller with the same result.
Overtime though was not needed for Great Britain this year, who were led by Boateng’s 18 points, a career high. He also added seven rebounds to his stat sheet.
“We been working on our stuff and it felt reassuring for it to manifest in this game and we are committed to doing that and we played very well together, too,” said Boateng.
Gordon, who hit the first points of the game, added 17 points for the victors with Lawrence amassing 16.
“It was a hard fought battle by both teams,” said Great Britain coach Joe Prunty.
“I think our defence got a little better and again that’s the area we have to improve; 79 points is an improvement from our game the other day but it is still a lot of points.
Prunty added: “I really liked the way that we fought, I like the way that we shared the basketball, 21 assists is a very good number particularly for the made field goals.”
Vojdan Stojanovski led all scorers with 28 points for Macedonia who will be disappointed that they allowed GB to shoot 53 percent from the field, even though they shot an impressive 50 percent.
A blistering start to the contest, which the visitors edged 30-28 was bettered by the Brits in the second as a score by Kieron Achara handed them their first double-digit lead at 47-37 with 1:40 left in the second, eventually settling for a 50-43 lead at the half.
The Macedonians got it closer to start the third but instead of caving in, GB regrouped and continued to attack their opponents, visiting the foul line on near enough every possession. The hosts eventually reclaimed their double-digit cushion at 66-54 thanks to a three from Gordon and even though a nice drive to the basket on the buzzer from Aleksandar Kostovski reduced the deficit, Great Britain still enjoyed a 69-60 lead heading into the fourth.
But any hopes of a comeback from the Former Yugoslav Republic were quickly dashed as three-pointers from Gordon and Lawrence gave the hosts a double-digit lead that they would not relinquish as they have built a sizable lead ahead of the return trip to Kavadarci on September 14.