Great Britain 86 Portugal 66 (Sunday at Ponds Forge)
Great Britain 83 Portugal 68 (Saturday at Motorpoint Arena)
BACK on courts where they had so much glory together as a pair with Sheffield Sharks, Great Britain head coach Chris Finch and guard Nate Reinking could enjoy their first international success of the summer.
After seven straight defeats in the lead up to the Olympic Games, GB had performed well against some of the world’s leading powers but failed to snatch a victory.
However, with Finch remembering packed evenings at the Arena and noisy emotional occasions at Ponds Forge with the Sharks, Great Britain easily saw off the challenge of a gritty Portugal team twice over the weekend.
Reinking said the first victory on Saturday at the Arena was an important step in the team’s development: “It was good. We were rusty in the first half after a few days off but we just kept fighting and I think in the second half we showed what we can do.
“It was nice to get the win and enjoy it. It brings back memories from all the great days at the Arena.”
GB had trailed 37-39 at half time but took the lead for good early in the third quarter with a basket from NBA star Luol Deng, on his way to a game high 21 points. A Reinking three made it 45-41 and the Portuguese could never get any closer after that.
Yesterday Great Britain recovered from an early deficit to score the last eight points as they led 21-14 at the end of the first period. GB’s run continued to 12-0 before Portugal could score their first bucket in nearly three minutes of play. But the Brits picked up the pace as their lead extended to 35-18 thanks to a triple from Deng which was closely followed by a steal and highlight dunk from Pops Mensah-Bonsu as GB led 46-29 at half-time.
A three-pointer from Reinking gave GB a 57-37 lead midway through the third quarter. A great steal from the weekend’s Most Valuable Player Andrew Lawrence, which led to a strong lay-up helped to a 61-45 after three-quarters.
Eric Boateng scored GB’s first seven points of the fourth quarter, which he highlighted with an explosive dunk off his own missed free throw, giving Great Britain a 70-50 lead and there was no way back for Portugal.
Finch said: “Overall it was a great performance, yesterday was rusty so it was much improved today, especially our second half showing, lots of things to be happy about and everyone was really focused and played really sharp.”
Great Britain now play USA in Manchester on Thursday.