Brits rock Copper Box
PUBLISHED: 08:41 12 August 2013 | UPDATED: 08:41 12 August 2013
Basketball squad down Puerto Rico
The Standard Life GB men’s team began their EuroBasket warm-up campaign with a 61-55 victory against Puerto Rico in front of a packed house at the Copper Box Arena in London yesterday.
It marked a first win for new GB head coach Joe Prunty, who made a variety of team changes throughout the game to give most player’s good minutes on the home court.
On his 50th appearance for GB, Kieron Achara led the scoring with 13 points, and the Scot also added 11 rebounds and six blocks to his statline.
“It was pleasing to get the win,” Achara said. “Right now, it’s all about getting the results and understanding each other on the court.
“The mood has been great and we look to continue the momentum as we head to EuroBasket.”
On getting 50 caps for his country, he added: “It’s a great feeling, from being a rookie on the team to being a veteran, it’s a fantastic honour.
“We have a great group of guys here and it’s great to be a part of it.”
Kyle Johnson added 11 points and Leicester Riders forward Andrew Sullivan scored 10 points.
For Prunty, it was important to get a win under his belt as he got to see how his new team performed against a stubborn Puerto Rico side.
He said: “It was important not just to get this win under our belts as individuals but as a unit.
“And with this unit, I like where we are. It’s nowhere near where we need to be but I like where we are.”
Andrew Lawrence hit a three-pointer to open GB’s account, which cancelled out an early score from Manuel De Jesus.
But the Puerto Ricans went on to take a 10-5 lead midway through the quarter.
GB fought back as the first period wore on with buckets from Kyle Johnson, Justin Robinson and Flo Larkai but they still trailed 15-14 after the first 10 minutes.
A 6-0 start to the second period by the visitors, led by Gabriel Belardo, gave Puerto Rico a 21-14 lead, but six quick points from Sullivan and a score from Johnson put GB 22-21 up.
Both teams jostled for the lead as the second period came to an end and four points from Stirling-born Achara looked to give GB a deserved lead going into the interval
But back-to-back scores from the Puerto Ricans cancelled that lead and the game was tied at 30-30 at half-time.
Lawrence got two free throws to begin the third quarter and linked up beautifully with Johnson on back-to-back possessions to extend GB’s lead to 38-33 in the early stages of the period.
Chris Gaston and Jerzeel De Jesus squeezed the gap to a single point before a 6-0 burst from the Brits ensured that they went into the fourth quarter up by a 44-42 margin.
Buckets from Sullivan in the early stages of the fourth extended the hosts’ lead to 48-42 and a three from Ogo Adegboye saw it stretched further to 51-42 as their opponents began to tire.
In the last few minutes of the game, successive scores from Gaston narrowed the gap to 53-49 as Puerto Rico looked to mount one last revival, but a timely three-point play from Achara and a triple from Johnson sealed GB’s win.
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