The first half was a closely contested battle but it was GB who got the better of the Serbians by the halftime buzzer. GB came out with a strong start taking the first quarter against the Serbians 17-15, using their speed and athleticism to get out in transition for quick buckets. Romario Spence and Nathan Delaney Robinson carried the scoring load in the first half, Robinson leading the way for GB with 9 points and Spence following right behind with 8 points. Kaiyem Cleary provided a spark off the bench defensively before leaving the game right before halftime with a left shoulder injury, whilst teammate Niall Harris contributed some additional scoring off the pine. The Serbians struggled to control GB’s quick baskets in transition and despite staying in the game with their methodical team play, GB held on to their lead to finish out the first half 36-33.
The second half was much like the first; a neck-and-neck affair with both teams fighting hard to gain control of the game. GB came out firing with another three pointer from Spence who continued his stellar play from the first half, putting the score dead even half way through the third quarter. Serbia began to find their rhythm from beyond the arc and pushed the tempo offensively, but the Brits never folded, answering Serbia each time they asked for more. Kayne Henry turned it on in the second half, going for 11 of his team high 17 points and getting out for a vicious poster dunk on a chase down Serbian defender in transition. By this point, GB had the momentum, but Serbia weren’t going down without a fight as they hit another huge three pointer right on the buzzer to end the third quarter with GB up 52-50.
With momentum swung momentarily, Serbia managed to take the lead two minutes into the fourth until Henry answered once again with a big three to bring the score back even. The 6’6 small forward was unstoppable in this one, showing off his unique combination of skill and athleticism and giving GB the edge again and again with some impressive plays in the half court. After a huge block from Spence leading to a transition basket from Henry on the other end, GB had gained a 5-point lead with just a few minutes remaining. Niall Harris then found himself living at the free throw line in the final minutes as Serbia began to foul in desperation. Harris kept his cool to keep GB in the lead which they held onto to end the game 77-72.
With the win, GB advance to ‘elite 8’ Fiba European Championship Quarter-Finals and solidify their presence in the Division A competition. The quarterfinals will see the Brits take on Germany tomorrow at 4pm.