Great Britain’s men set a new national team record of consecutive wins as they finished their successful Eurobasket 2021 pre-qualifying window with a trip to Luxembourg.
While they had the luxury of knowing that qualification to the next round had been secured with a game to spare, Nate Reinking’s men had the opportunity to secure a seven-game win streak in FIBA play – and that’s what they did with a 93-65 win.
Coach Reinking was a player on the 2007 team which set the previous record, along with GB legends including Luol Deng, Drew Sullivan and coach Chris Finch.
After three strong performances to top the group, Coach Reinking made only one change to the team. Guard Jacob Round made his debut after a successful outing with the U20 GB team in Division A earlier in the Summer. He replaced big man Gabe Olaseni after his 18pt performance last Saturday against Kosovo.
Ashley Hamilton started in place of Olaseni, and joined the other four regular starters Myles Hesson, Teddy Okereafor, Luke Nelson and Morayo Soluade.
Despite the change in starting centre, GB looked to establish the same inside presence from the opening tip that had served them so well against Kosovo in Manchester at the weekend. Hamilton attracted defensive attention, which gave team-mates open looks and offensive rebounding opportunities. On the back of this, GB raced into a 13-2 lead after five minutes and forced an early time out from Luxembourg.
GB were equally dominant at the defensive end, with blocks from Eric Boateng and Soluade as GB restricted Luxembourg to five made field goals in the first quarter, which finished with GB having established a comfortable 24-10 lead.
The second continued in a similar vein, with Luxembourg struggling to get good looks in the face of a swarming GB scramble defence, and GB scoring almost at will as their ball movement and ability to win offensive rebounds produced easy baskets. A second Luxembourg time-out came at the six minute mark with the GB lead having ballooned to 37-12.
Luxembourg found some offensive rhythm towards the end of the half, but GB still extended the lead to 50-24 after two quarters. Nelson led the nine GB scorers with 11pts, with the team shooting 48% from the field overall.
The third quarter was a more even affair, as Luxembourg finally found their shooting range with Thomas Grun hitting a couple of three-pointers. However, GB kept them at arm’s length with their own long-range barrage. Jacob Round got his first senior minutes and promptly hit his first two efforts from beyond the arc, as GB went 6/9 in the quarter from outside.
On the back of this continued long-range accuracy, GB’s lead moved out to 77-42 after three quarters.
In truth, the fourth quarter passed without too much to remember it by. Round continued to look the part at senior level as he drained another pair of 3 pointers to finish with 12 points on six shots.
Nelson finished with 17 points, joined in double figures by Round and Hamilton on 12. GB ran out 93-65 winners to top their group with a 100% record and a new senior record of seven consecutive FIBA wins.
Next on the schedule is the slightly harder prospect of France, Montenegro and Germany in their 2021 qualifiers in February. The team will move towards these fixtures with confidence and the knowledge that, with players to return, they are looking strong and ready to make some noise.