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Page last updated at 20:14 GMT, Saturday, 14 August 2010 21:14 UK

Great Britain men stand out in Birmingham double-header


GB Basketball on the map - Deng

By Rob Dugdale
BBC Sport in Birmingham

Great Britain's men came back from a slow start to beat Ukraine 90-76 in their European qualifier.

Luol Deng had 28 points and Pops Mensah-Bonsu added 15 as GB registered their fourth successive Group B win.

Ukraine proved tough opposition, hitting an early 40-29 lead before Deng took over the game in the fourth quarter, scoring 14 points.

Earlier, Britain's women lost their opening qualifier 76-67 to Slovakia, despite Johannah Leedham's 17 points.

Great Britain's teams, who both still need to prove they are good enough for a place at the 2012 Olympics, were taking part in the first of two double-headers this season, at the National Indoor Arena.

In the later match, Ukraine's men came out shooting, hitting their first five three-point attempts, as Great Britain looked slightly weary after Wednesday's game in Bosnia.

Every game has been won in the last five minutes - there doesn't exist much margin for error here

GB men's coach Chris Finch

Two threes from Ogo Adegboye and one each from Nate Reinking and Deng had the home side leading 45-42 in the second quarter, but Ukraine got the lead back in the third quarter through Sergei Lischuk and Maxim Pustozvonov.

When Lischuk fouled out after less than a minute of the final quarter, Great Britain took the lead through a Reinking basket on the next play and never lost it.

Deng and Flinder Boyd combined for the next seven points, but Ukraine rallied againn and were just 74-72 down with 4:12 remaining.

Two baskets from Reinking, who finished with 14 points, heralded the Deng Show. He drilled a three, stole and drove for a two and then hit another three to establish a 15-point lead with just 50 seconds remaining.

"It was just like all of our games," said Great Britain coach Chris Finch. "Every game has been won in the last five minutes - there doesn't exist much margin for error here.

"We played alongside of our opponents - no disrespect to them - but if you play alongside of them they're going to out-execute you and that's what they did. Then we increased our energy and made the game a little uglier and that's to our advantage.

"I'm really pleased with our guys - I keep asking them to dig deep and they keep stepping up and making plays at the end of the game."

The result keeps Great Britain top of the group with another home game, against Hungary, to come on Tuesday in Birmingham.

The top teams in each of the three qualifying groups, plus the two best second-placed teams qualify for the Eurobasket tournament in Lithuania in September 2011.

In the women's qualifying tournament, the top two teams in each of the four groups qualify.

But GB endured a slow start, conceding the first 10 points of their game against Group D top seeds Slovakia.

We've got to learn to play together more

GB women's coach Tom Maher

They then hit back through Leedham and the hard work of centre Azania Stewart to lead 36-34 at half-time. In the third quarter, they managed only two field goals and started to slip behind.

Their failings were punished on the break and by a stunning shooting performance from Slovakia's Luisa Michulkova, who hit 13 of her 19 points in their decisive streak, including 11 in a row.

Slovakia were leading by 14 points with five minutes remaining and Michulkova's return to score her side's last six points finished Great Britain off after they had reduced arrears to 64-70.

Kim Butler added 10 points and seven rebounds for the home side. Stewart, in foul trouble for most of the game, finished with eight points and was Great Britain's best player, according to coach Tom Maher.

"She was the one who competed for us on the boards - we just got pushed around on the rebounding," Maher said.

"But we had the person who missed the shot running back thinking about missing that shot and they just ran lay-ups in against us. We've got to learn to play together more."

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see also
GB secure late Sarajevo victory
11 Aug 10 |  Basketball
GB earn gutsy win over Macedonia
08 Aug 10 |  Basketball
GB beat Hungary in Euro qualifier
02 Aug 10 |  Basketball
Superstar Deng spreads the basketball word
16 Aug 10 |  World Olympic Dreams
Deng back for vital GB qualifiers
31 Jul 10 |  Basketball
GB 'must work harder' for 2012
30 Jul 10 |  Basketball
Finch confident of Deng's return
12 Apr 10 |  Basketball
Coach calls for GB trio to commit
14 Feb 10 |  Basketball

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