EuroBasket pre-qualifying: Great Britain beat Austria but fail to win group

By Rob DugdaleBBC Sport
Teddy Okereafor
Great Britain's Teddy Okereafor in action against Austria.

Great Britain's men beat Austria 78-75 in their EuroBasket 2021 pre-qualifier in Schwechat - but fell short of the 14-point margin needed to win their group.

Ovie Soko scored 19 points and Myles Hesson 18 to lead Great Britain, who came back from 11 points behind in the second quarter.

The result leaves GB with four games to play later this year to reach the qualifying phase, fixtures that will put added strain on the cash-strapped national programme.

GB lost the first quarter 27-19, with Austrian star Sylven Landesberg, who scored 49 points in the reverse fixture in Manchester, already into double figures.

Although they enjoyed a better second quarter, with threes from Hesson, Kyle Johnson and Andrew Lawrence in an 18-9 run, stopping Landesberg remained a problem, with the Austrian reaching half-time with 20 points to his name and his team 48-44 ahead.

GB sent on Conner Washington to guard Landesberg and the Leicester player did well - with he and his team-mates restricting the home favourite to free-throw points in the second half.

In the third quarter, GB were level following a three from Dan Clark and had their first lead, at 56-54, on a two from Soko.

When Washington scored with 4:52 remaining to give GB a 72-63 lead, the 14-point margin required seemed very much a possibility. But they managed only two further points in the next three-and-a-half minutes and the momentum was gone.

The result is that the team will have to win a three-team group in August against Luxembourg and Kosovo.

Coach Alberto Lorenzo said: "It was like we played two different games. In the first half we didn't find our pace and the intensity we need on defence. In the second half we found that pace and controlled the tempo of the game and started to get some easy baskets."

Guard Washington, making only his second appearance for Britain, added: "We battled all the way through - we tried to play our game and limit them in terms of what they wanted to do."

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