Standard Life Great Britain remain unbeaten in EuroBasket Qualifying Group B, following a 90-76 victory over a hard-working Ukraine side in Birmingham.
Luol Deng led all scorers on the night, with 28 points personal, with Pops Mensah-Bonsu adding 15 points. Maksym Pustozvonov led the Ukraine in vain – with 18 points. As Great Britain improve to 4-0.
Once Ukraine’s danger-man, Serhiy Lischuk fouled out, GB stepped their game up a gear, as a mixture of Reinking and Deng gave GB some breathing space – and despite a mini revival from the visitors, it was Reinking and Deng who, again put the Brits back in control, and it was Deng who made the game safe with a triple and a breakaway dunk to give the hosts a double-digit lead and continue Chris Finch’s boys’ unbeaten run.
“We are now in an excellent position, we can’t ask for anything better.” Explained Finch, as he was obviously very pleased with how his team kept the 100% record in tack.
Team captain, Andrew Sullivan was happy, but at this stage, it does not matter how the team wins – as long as they win.
“At the end of the day, a W (win) is a W (win) and we have set goals and if it means winning ugly, then so be it.” Sullivan commented at the after-game press conference.
A frantic first quarter – where the visitors hit five triples, was free-flowing. Dan Clark continuing where he left off, with seven points. But the Ukraine ended the first in the lead, 27-24. Hitting all five of their three-point attempts.
The visitors continued to take the game to the undefeated Group B leaders, with Viacheslav Kravtsov hitting seven points, as the Ukraine built a 40-29 lead mid-way through the second stanza. GB though replied with a 12-0 run, inspired by Ogo Adeboye’s five points. As the hosts took a one-point lead going into the half, 47-46.
A nip-and-tuck third stanza, saw the lead change on numerous occasions. But, the visitors quietly built the lead back at 63-59, mainly thanks to Oleksiy Pecherov’s smart play inside, as GB’s big-men struggled to cope with his quick footwork. The home side rallied, and tied the game in the closing seconds at 64 – thanks to Ogo Adeboye’s easy lay-up, off a smart Luol Deng pass.
The visitors from the Ukraine were let down by a poor fourth quarter showing – and coach, Vitaliy Cherniy blamed their final period performance for their loss, saying: “For most of the game, we played good, smart basketball – and we played how we should play. But, in the last three minutes of the game, we played awful, by just making stupid mistakes.”
Great Britain are back at the National Indoor Arena on Tuesday night, as they entertain Hungary. Whilst the Ukraine travel away to Skopje to play FYR of Macedonia.
John Hobbs for TalkBasket.net – in Birmingham