Great Britain’s EuroBasket 2021 qualifying campaign started with a narrow defeat in Montenegro.
GB went down 81-74 at a raucous Moraca Sports Centre in Podgorica despite a late push to overhaul their hosts, who are ranked seven places above them in the European standings.
They twice fought back from double-digit deficits in the Group G clash with Myles Hesson (20 points) and Ovie Soko (18, 9 rebounds) leading the charge.
The hosts got off to a hot start, jumping out to a 15-2 lead in the first five minutes. A Soko three brought the deficit back to ten at 24-14 at the end of the first.
A Hesson three sparked a GB run at the start of the second as they closed the gap to five and a lay-up from Gabe Olaseni made it 31-30 to the hosts and brought a home timeout with 4.33 to play in the quarter.
The Brits kept at it and went in at half-time just 42-38 behind.
Montenegro opened up a 11-point lead in the opening five minutes of the third and pulled away further to go into the final period 62-48 up.
GB cut the deficit to single figures midway through the period and got within three inside the final minute but Montenegro held their nerve as the visitors fouled for possession.
Olaseni had 10 points while Justin Cobbs (19) and Marko Todorovic (16) led the way for the home side.
GB go again on Monday when they will face Germany at a sold-out Eagles Community Arena in Newcastle.