Great Britain’s men sealed a place in the EuroBasket 2021 Qualifying tournament with a comprehensive 101-79 victory at Manchester’s National Basketball Performance Centre.
Coach Nate Reinking’s men, led by Myles Hesson (19 points and 10 assists, 9 rebounds), Luke Nelson (19) and Gabriel Olaseni (18) secured top spot in their pre-qualifying group with a commanding, composed performance in front of a lively crowd.
Love Island celebrity Ovie Soko got a great reception from fans before, during and after the game as he turned out to back his team-mates with partner India.
But the real stars of the show were out on the floor.
GB started with a five of Hesson, Nelson, Teddy Okereafor, Olaseni and Morayo Soluade and they got off to an impressive opening.
A alley-oop dunk from Hesson and some fluid offense were highlights of an opening quarter they took 24-12.
The second started with a pair of Gareth Murray threes either side if one from Kosovo’s Dardan Berisha and more from Okereafor, Hesson and Nelson as GB charged towards a 54-32 half-time lead.
Soulade hit an early three – GB shot at over 42% from behind the arc – to keep Reinking’s side ticking over as Kosovo tried to lift their defensive intensity but an Oselini dunk, some focused play and another three, this time from Conner Washington, kept GB on top. They ended the period 78-55 up.
Kosovo cut GB’s lead to 19 early in the fourth sparking a time-out from Reinking and his team responded, Ashley Hamilton taking it to 80-60 with three-pointer.
Kosovo’s defense became more desperate in the final minutes with four players fouling out as GB remained collected to see out the win.
Nate Reinking said:
“The guys were mentally ready to come and play, they wanted to get the first punch against Kosovo, and I think they did that. We established ourselves and continued that throughout the game.
“The guys play well together, the assist total proves it – how they moved the ball and finding the extra man. It’s their team, their group and they came together unbelievably. They are getting better each game, they came out with great confidence.”