Macedonia looked to be on the verge of their third straight win before Luol Deng nailed a massive three-pointer to take the game into overtime, and a strong final five minutes sealed things for Chris Finch’s team.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu led the way for the home team with 27 points and nine rebounds, while Deng was an assist shy of a triple double with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists…WOW!
Lester Mekkaleb of Macedonia was unstoppable with 30 points, while Antic added 16 points plus five boards and Todor Gechevski finished with 12 points and six rebounds.
GB led by as many as 12 in the first period, and despite three players picking up two fouls apiece, they went into the first break 29-18 ahead.
With Mekkaleb reaching 15 points after just two second period minutes, Macedonia fought back to within a point going into the final 90 seconds of the half before Keiron Achara hit a three pointer off Dan Clark’s assist with 62 seconds remaining in the half, and GB went into the locker room 47-43 ahead.
Gechevski opened the third period scoring with a hook shot, and after Mensah-Bonsu and Stojanovski had exchanged triples, Makkaleb levelled the score at 50 with a lay-up and the teams were still level at 68 going into the fourth as Dimitar Mirakovski hit a three-pointer to end the period.
Deng and Mekkaleb exchanged baskets to put Macedonia three up going into the final five minutes, and although Reinking made it a one point game again, four Mekkaleb points in a 6-0 run saw them take an 83-76 lead and force another GB timeout with 2:35 on the clock.
Four straight Deng points dragged GB back into the game but Mekkaleb converted a pair from the foul line after he was fouled by Mensah-Bonsu.
Sokolov became the third player in the period to be called for an offensive foul, and Clark hit both shots at the line and from the inbound Mensah-Bonsu scored a lay-up to make it a one point game and spark a Macedonia timeout with 48 seconds remaining.
Sullivan blocked Chekovski’s jump shot, and Deng grabbed the ball before seeing a three point rim out, and he was forced to send Sokolov to the line where he hit both foul shots to make it a three point game.
Gechevski fouled Mensah-Bonsu on the inbound, but the former NBA man missed the first leaving the team with a big decision.
Pops looked to Coach Finch who gave him the instruction to miss the second shot. From here on in GB were simply poetry in motion. Dan Clark tipped the ball back out to Deng who nailed an awesome three to send the game into overtime, and send the crowd in ecstasy.
Drew Sullivan opened the extra period with a jump shot and the GB skipper gave his team a three point lead going into the final two minutes with a tip-in off Mensah-Bonsu’s missed trey before a pair of Mensah-Bonsu dunks and a tip-in effectively wrapped things up.
GB Standard Life Head Coach, Chris Finch said after the game: “All credit to our guys we had fantastic senior leadership. The guys made big shots and everybody out there made a big play. When you’re on a team that has a winning spirit you tend not to lose confidence in those moments even if you don’t win the game”
He continued, “The extra time we had to prepare for tonight’s game against Macedonia helped too and that was a big game for us. When you’re in a group of five its home, away, home, away but we have got to make sure we take advantage and protect our home turf in group play, that’s vital.”
Great Britain now play on the road against Bosnia & Herzegovina before returning to the NIA Birmingham to take on Ukraine this Saturday.
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