It isn’t often someone taps you on the shoulder in the heat of a closely-contested basketball game and says to you, “They’ve started to throw coins. Let us know if they hit you guys”. But unfortunately, that’s what the Great Britain communications staff were telling the working media in London with roughly eight minutes left during Hungary’s 88-80 win over GB.
While the Hungarians secured the win, improving them to 4-0 in Group F, it was marred by the behaviour of the fans before the game and after, although afterwards was more of a case of fans wanting to celebrate with the players. But, even though we felt no missiles hit us, there were a couple of coins on the floor by the stands.
Security took the Hungary fans away for the latter part of the second quarter after it emerged that one of the visiting supporters assaulted Great Britain’s team mascot. The Police were called as a precaution to which they were needed at the end of the game as they pushed away fans as they tried to rush the court to congratulate their heroes.
But in fairness, the supporters had every reason to celebrate, it was a hard-fought win for Hungary who were nowhere near their best but ultimately came good in the latter stages of the third period and the final two minutes of the fourth to all but seal their spot for Eurobasket 2017; which would be their first international tournament since 1999.
The other side of the coin, with zero pun intended, it was a loss that got away from Great Britain, who led for the majority of the game only to falter in the third quarter, as the hosts committed four turnovers, and ended up with nine turnovers overall allowing Hungary to score 17 points off those errors.
But early memories of Hungary’s dominance against the Brits in their opening Eurobasket encounter were quickly evaporated as GB ran out to a 16-6 lead thanks to a bucket from Kyle Johnson as the hosts showed no fear in attacking the basket and they shot with confidence, highlighted by shooting 52 percent from the field in the first half.
Adam Hanga, who showed his EuroLeague pedigree in the win in Kecskemet was off-sorts in the first half, shooting wise and while Hungary have other players who can step up and put points on the board, those very players were somewhat reluctant to attack the hoop and opted instead to jack up three-pointers to little success.
By the end of the first half, Great Britain had a 44-38 lead, and were good money for it, too.
But Hungary were not out of it and back-to-back three-pointers from Csaba Ferencz and David Vojvoda which he followed for another score put the Hungarians up 60-59 with 2:00 of the third quarter remaining.
After three, Hungary led 65-61 and even though GB retook the lead at 71-70 early in the fourth quarter thanks to a three from Dan Clark, Hungary had the final dagger ready to drop and an 11-0 run highlighted by Hanga, who all of a sudden sparked into life in that burst put the game to bed once and for all.
Hanga and Vojvoda, Hungary’s dynamic duo throughout these Eurobasket qualifiers each scored 18 points. Ferencz also amassed that amount for the victors.
GB’s Eurobasket qualifying record now reads at 2-2, making Wednesday’s game on the road to FYR of Macedonia a big game in terms of qualification from Group F. Gabe Olaseni hit 17 points, shooting 8/8 from the field.
Featured Photo: Mansoor Ahmed.