Great Britain earned their first victory of Eurobasket 2011 with a 85-73 victory over winless Portugal in Panevezys.
This was Great Britain’s first ever competitive win, following their 0-3 effort two years ago at Eurobasket in Poland. Luol Deng led the way with a supreme double-double of 31 points and ten rebounds.
Portugal struggled to match Great Britain’s intense offence from the second quarter onwards as Chris Finch’s side scored the majority of their points in transition to pull away.
After a dull opening two minutes, where neither team were able to register a single point, Luol Deng got things going with a short floater, and from then, GB held Portugal scoreless for a further three minutes until Filipe Da Silva laid it up.
Portugal took a brief lead mid-way through the second period thanks to free-throws from Miguel Minhava, but the Brits stamped their authority and never looked back.
The introduction of veteran Robert Archibald was a boost for the Brits as he played his role of big man with four points.
“I feel tired,” said Archibald. “I spent three days in bed which isn’t the ideal way to start your preparations. I was a little worried my back would come out thanks to being in bed. But it felt great, and tomorrow I can come back even better prepared.”
Deng would score nine points in the first period, but the Portuguese would hit back, mainly from the foul line as both teams were tied at 16 after one.
Portugal then became over-reliant on three-pointers as GB pulled away, thanks to triples from Deng and Nate Reinking, making it 29-22, the lead became a double-digit lead with a three from Mike Lenzly.
GB maintained that double-digit advantage, leading 44-34 at the half. Then pulled away in the third. Their transition game was something that Portugal couldn’t hang with.
Credit to Portugal, they nearly pulled it right back, getting as near as nine points, on the back of an 8-0 run. But GB responded in kind with a 8-2 run to ice it.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” Great Britain coach, Chris Finch commented. “It’s come after many tries, six tries. But all through those games, we’ve battled hard.”