Great Britain’s Men’s team battled valiantly against a strong Turkey side in Newcastle to close out the first round of FIBA World Cup 2023 qualifying, but just fell short against the European heavyweights despite a spirited effort from Nate Reinking’s side.
A 13-3 start from the visiting side in the opening five minutes led to Head Coach Nate Reinking calling an early timeout as GB created a number of good looks inside and on the perimeter but were unable to convert.
A trio of threes from Patrick Whelan, Myles Hesson and Dan Clark and some great work in transition situations saw the home side respond with a 15-2 run of their own to put Turkey on the back foot, but they still managed to end the opening period leading by two points (18-20).
A huge dunk from Gabe Olaseni at the start of the second tied the game up, before the number 0 put up a monster and-one play to give GB a lead.
Turkey found some fortune from the perimeter as the quarter drew to a close and GB battled hard to keep pace, but with calls from officials going against them and the home side having no luck go their way, the visitors led by 11 going into the break.
Great Britain made several big stops to start the third quarter as they looked to close the gap to the visitors but had less fortune converting those forced turnovers into points and the deficit remained at 11 going into the final period.
An emphatic entrance to the game by Kavell Bigby-Williams from the bench energised GB further as they chased down the visitors’ lead, with the big-man contributing some incredible athleticism on both ends of the floor, but Turkey did enough to keep the hosts at arm’s length and see out the win despite a huge effort ant battle by GB.
Hesson once again led the team in scoring on his way to a double-double of 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, whilst Bigby-Williams and Devon van Oostrum added a dozen points apiece in what were perhaps their best showings in a GB jersey to date.
The focus for the Men’s team now turns towards a busy end-of-summer period as the second round of World Cup qualifying gets underway in late August, before the team head straight to EuroBasket in Milan in early September.