GB MEN START THEIR EUROBASKET QUALIFYING CAMPAIGN WITH A VICTORY
Hungary Men 82 – 91 Team GB Men
Chris Finch was delighted as the GB Standard Life Men picked up a vital 91-82 victory in Hungary to open their EuroBasket qualifying campaign.
“This was a big win for us” said the GB coach. “Hungary are very good and they shot the ball well in the first half.
“We made some big plays down the stretch. The guys gutted it out. Wins on the road in this group are worth two”.
GB allowed a 12 point half-time lead to slip, but stepped up in the fourth period to make a winning start to a key summer programme.
Chicago Bulls star Luol Deng led the way with 32 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals, and Pops Mensah-Bonsu had an impressive 14 point, 18 rebound double-double.
Veteran Nate Reinking added 16 points, while at the other end of the age-scale Dan Clark marked his first start in a competitive game with 14 points for Chris Finch’s team.
Adam Hanga led the home side with a 20 point, ten rebound double-double with David Vojvoda adding 18 points for a Hungary team who were out-rebounded 43-36.
Hungary won the tip and took the lead through Vojvoda, but Deng marked his return to GB by driving to the basket and draw a foul on the same player before sinking both free-throws to level the score.
Deng then sunk a trey to give GB their first lead of the game, and Mensah-Bonsu also scored from downtown, and they were 12-10 up at the five minute mark – although Ogo Adegboye had been forced to sit down on his second foul.
Deng continued to be the key man in the GB offence during a high-scoring period as he hit 11 points, including a perfect six from six at the foul line, but although a spin move from Dan Clark put GB 27-23 up it was the home side who finished strongly to lead 29-27 at the first break.
That lead was wiped out by a Nate Reinking trey to open the second period, and with Mensah-Bonsu and Clark both on target they opened a 38-33 lead when Finch called a timeout with 6:17 on the clock.
Finch’s team continued to control the tempo, shutting down at least some of the Hungarians’ pick and roll, and Deng made it a ten point game with 1:24 on the clock when he sunk a pair from the line.
A Hungary timeout made little difference and Clark and Deng both hit efforts from the Land of Plenty to send GB into the locker room with a 54-42 half-time lead.
Hungarian Adam Hanga opened the second half scoring, and Adegboye collected his third foul of the game to send him to the foul line.
Deng and Clark kept Britain ahead but a Gergely Toth trey made it a three point game, forcing Finch to call a timeout with 5:49 on the clock.
Deng took his tally to 25, but the home team gradually chipped away at the lead and Vojvoda levelled the score with three free-throws after being fouled by Justin Robinson before Hanga put Hungary 66-64 ahead.
Clark restored the lead, only to see Krisztian Wittmann put his side 69-67 by draining from downtown to close the period.
Vojvoda made it a four point game after Mensah-Bonsu missed a jumper to open the final period but a huge trey from Deng following by another one from Reinking saw Britain regain the initiative as they took a 74-71 lead with 6:45 on the clock.
Mensah-Bonsu put GB 78-75 ahead going into the last four minutes before Reinking made it a five point game as Hungary called a timeout with 3:02 remaining.
Horvath cut that lead back to three after sinking both foul shots following a Mensah-Bonsu foul, but the former NBA man made amends made amends with a lay-up to put GB back up by five and force a timeout with 90 seconds left in the game.
It was all GB now, and Sullivan was fouled as he concerted a lay-up, though he missed the bonus shot.
With Hungary forced to foul, Reinking hit one of two at the line to make it an eight point game, and although Wittmann sliced two off that lead Adegboye stayed cool at the line to hit four straight before – inevitably – Deng took the final points of the game.
Britain are without a game when the competition resumes on Thursday, but they host FYR of Macedonia at Northumbria University Sport Central on Sunday, and Finch knows the importance of the next week.
“This next week is really important as we have a bye which provides several days to work on some key areas” he said.
“It’ll be good to get to work in Newcastle.”
Macedonia started the competition with a 71-58 victory in Ukraine thanks mainly to a strong fourth period, and they host Hungary on Thursday before making the trip to the north east of England.