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Page last updated at 21:59 GMT, Thursday, 26 August 2010 22:59 UK

GB qualify with win over Bosnia

By Rob Dugdale
BBC Sport in Liverpool

Luol Deng
Deng shot 38 to finish GB's top scorer

Great Britain's men qualified for the European finals for the second successive time with a 94-85 overtime win over Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Luol Deng and Pops Mensah-Bonsu both produced their highest scores for GB, Deng hitting 38 points and Mensah-Bonsu adding 32 and 21 rebounds.

GB needed two free throws with 19 seconds left to reach overtime at 81-81 but dominated the extra period.

Nate Reinking added 16 points as GB reached EuroBasket 2011 in Lithuania.

Afterwards, coach Chris Finch was bullish about the team's right to host in the 2012 Olympics, something that has still to be confirmed by world governing body Fiba.

"We've met every performance marker they've laid down," he said. "We believe we're entitled to our rightful spot by the way we play."

As it has been all through the qualifying campaign, GB struggled to impose themselves against tough, experienced opponents

Particularly in the first half, they missed open long-range shots as they had in Monday's defeat to Macedonia - the only loss of their eight-game qualifying campaign.

Level 15-15 at the end of the first quarter, they fought through to a 37-29 lead with the help of a 11 points from an inspired Mensah-Bonsu and eight from Deng.

By half-time, Bosnia were trailing by three points but Deng had complained his way to a technical foul, something he had earlier suggested to BBC Sport he might do to make the referees aware of his growing frustration at the physical contact he has routinely attracted in Europe this summer.

He returned, energised, after half-time to post 12 points in the third quarter with the help of a pair of threes from Reinking.

However, Bosnia remained stubbornly in contention, trailing only 64-57 at the end of the third quarter.

They were ahead again after three minutes of the final period when Henry Domercant hit a second three-pointer and Aleksej Nesovic added another.

Deng, Reinking and Mensah-Bonsu restored the lead, but Bajramovic and Domercant brought Bosnia back into the lead and it took a Mensah-Bonsu rebound for a pair of free throws with 19 seconds remaining to tie the game and force overtime.

606: DEBATE

In the extra period, Mensah-Bonsu hit another matching pair and Reinking and Deng added baskets for a 6-0 run for an 88-83 lead with 2:04 left.

The decisive play came 46 seconds later when Deng and Mensah-Bonsu combined on the fast break for the latter to finish with a reverse dunk that brought the crowd to its feet and all but clinched qualification.

"I just came out tonight and was aggressive," said Deng of his 38-point haul, which came after he had been held to his two lowest scores in the previous two games.

GB's win came in front of Deng's former Chicago team-mate, London-born Ben Gordon, who flew in to see the game at Liverpool.

"We're really pleased to have him with us, it shows his commitment," said Finch. "I hope he likes what he sees.

"Pops was amazing - his offensive rebounding has won us a bunch of games late on," the coach added.

"He was not to be denied - Luol can tell you that that sort of offensive rebounding is at the level of anything in the NBA. I thought he was really focused and kept things simple and strong tonight."

Although Finch had little to say about the officiating, Deng's technical foul was a talking point.

"I wasn't getting any calls and I wanted the ref to notice," said the Chicago Bulls star. "I thought it was an obvious foul and he just didn't see it."



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see also
British men slip to first defeat
23 Aug 10 |  Basketball
GB men refuse to ease up
16 Aug 10 |  Basketball
GB Basketball's new star
13 Aug 10 |  Basketball
GB women clinch win over Ukraine
20 Aug 10 |  Basketball
GB men fight back to beat Hungary
17 Aug 10 |  Basketball
GB men stand out in double-header
14 Aug 10 |  Basketball


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