Great Britain men’s head coach Alberto Lorenzo was understandably delighted with his team’s defence in the 75-61 EuroBasket 2021 pre-qualifying win over Cyprus on Monday night.
The victory in Nicosia kept GB’s hopes alive as they now need to beat Cyprus again and Austria by 15 points or more in February in order to advance to the EuroBasket qualifiers proper, next summer.
It was the manner of the win that Lorenzo was most pleased about. Following Thursday’s loss to Austria at the National Basketball Performance Centre in Belle Vue, Manchester, the GB coach called for defensive improvements in Cyprus in what was a must-win game.
And he got just that. GB were determined throughout, holding the Cypriots to 37.5 percent from the floor on the night, holding their leading scorer Nikolaos Stylianou to just nine points on 2/8 shooting and forcing Cyprus to just 17 turnovers, while GB kept their own turnover numbers down, with just eight.
“It was my big goal to play good team defence as I feel that we did not do that on Thursday (against Austria), but I was very proud of my guys,” Lorenzo said.
“We wanted to put pressure on the ball handlers and if we got a stop, I said to the guys to get out in transition as I thought we would have been much quicker and skilled than them so that we could get easy scores and I was happy that we did that.
“I still feel that we can make improvements at both ends, but this win is definitely a positive step for us and for GB basketball, and we still have a purpose in this group which is good.”
Myles Hesson paced GB for the second game running as he poured in a game-high 21 points in the win, with contributions from Ovie Soko, who tallied 14 points on 55 percent shooting and Gabe Olaseni, who hit 12 points.
The players now return to their club sides returning to international duty for the crunch games against Cyprus at home on Thursday 21 February and Austria away on Sunday 24 February.