Great Britain’s bid to qualify for the FIBA World Cup for the first time in their history got off to the perfect start last night as Marc Steutel’s men came from behind to secure an historic victory over Greece – a team they’d failed to beat for 37 years – at Newcastle’s Vertu Motors Arena.
Team GB beat the world’s tenth ranked team 78-69 in their first match in Group B qualifying, a group that also includes Turkey and Belarus.
Greece looked like they were taking care of business as usual, but Great Britain had other plans. Great Britain, who was at one point down by fifteen points, was able to takeover in the fourth quarter. GB’s defence locked in and held the Greeks to three points in the first seven minutes.
This launched a 20-3 run that seemingly won the game for the British ballers. The Brits were on fire from deep, knocking down 56% of their three-point attempts.
The British fans were in large attendance. They helped their country secure the win by creating the type of atmosphere basketball thrives in.
“I think you can see what this win means to the group, we were fortunate to have the support that we had, it was loud in there and it was great to have a game like this on home soil.”, Great Britain head coach Marc Steutel told FIBA reporters.
Teddy Okereafor, Chesire Phoenix guard, led his country with a game-high 19 points. He shot 77.8% from the field, making 7 of his 9 shots. Okereafor was automatic hitting all four of his three-point shots. Two of the shots came in the aforementioned 20-3 run that put the Greece side away.
British-American guard Tarik Phillip was another key player, scoring 16 points to help seal the deal. He shot 50% on three-pointers in addition to 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
Between the international team and the London Lions’ strong showings in European competition, the country is making leaps forward in basketball. The Lions men’s team plays in the FIBA Europe Cup. This is a recently founded second-tier league behind the also recently launched Basketball Champions League (BCL).
London’s men’s’ team are 5-1 in European competition, and are tied for first place in their table. They will be able to qualify for the top league if they keep up the dominant play.
The Lions women’s team are currently playing in a larger European basketball league known as the EuroCup. The women’s team has not started out as strong, but are in the midst of a push for the playoffs.
Great Britain will travel to Istanbul to face off against the 16th ranked Turkey this Sunday for a pivotal matchup.
The featured image is from https://twitter.com/gbbasketball/status/1463972765334126596