Monday, 2 August 2010

Great Britain survive Hungarian onslaught

Chicago Bulls star Luol Deng scored 32 points as Great Britain began their European Championship qualifying campaign with a battling 91-82 victory over Hungary in Szolnok.

And Chris Finch's men were forced to scrap to emerge on top from their opening tie after the hosts rebounded from 14 down to lead in the fourth quarter before GB produced a decisive late flurry.

The visitors had looked set for a comfortable win, Deng hitting 20 by half-time to spark his side into a 54-42 advantage. However the unfancied Hungarians - led by 20 from Adam Hanga - punished a series of lapses to eventually surge 71-67 in front.

And it was American-born guard Nate Reinking who calmed Britain's nerves when it mattered most, hitting consecutive baskets to push Finch's inconsistent line-up ahead for good with seven minutes left.

In the closing stages, the hosts were forced to foul desperately. But rookie guard Ogo Adegboye hit four clutch free throws that pulled GB clear in front of a noisy 3,000 capacity crowd.

“Every win is important especially on the road,” said Deng. “Two years ago we lost our first qualifying game and we had to climb up the hill then. But I think the experience of some of the guys from that situation brought us through here.”

Pops Mensah-Bonsu chipped in 14 points and a mammoth 18 rebounds for GB while Reinking added 16 after sitting out much of the third quarter in foul trouble.

"Getting Nate back in the game was a big advantage for us - he made some big plays," said Finch, who was in his 50th game at the helm of the national team.

"Luol's such a smart player. He's a team player and we've seen it before. It takes some time to settle down and it'll get better."

GB host Macedonia, who beat Ukraine 71-58, in Newcastle on Sunday with the coaching staff set to use the time to install more of their offensive schemes.


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