Great Britain qualified for the main draw for EuroBasket 2021 with a comprehensive 101-79 victory over Kosovo in Manchester.
Myles Hesson and Luke Nelson led GB’s scoring with 19 points each while Gabe Olaseni added 18.
Ashley Hamilton and Gareth Murray also hit double digits as Nate Reinking’s men secured top spot in their group.
GB did the hard work in the first two quarters, opening a 22-point lead, and Kosovo could find no way back.
The win means GB can now prepare for games against Montenegro, Germany and France in the next qualifying phase.
Captain Hesson leads by example
After scrappy wins in their previous two games, GB proved they had used their week without a game wisely by coming out of the blocks with speed and assurance.
They won the first quarter 24-12 with Hesson, the captain, again leading the way with 10 points and three assists that resulted in seven more points.
A run of four three-pointers in the second quarter, including two from veteran forward Gareth Murray, gave GB a 38-20 lead and they were more than 20 points ahead at half-time.
Kosovo, big winners over Luxembourg in midweek, were unable to find their shooting touch in the third quarter and the lead was 85-62 when Nelson splashed a three in the fourth quarter on an assist from Hesson.
Both were benched for the final exchanges as Reinking’s team qualified with a game to spare.
Reinking, a 2012 Olympian with GB, has started with three wins as head coach – with a chance of a fourth in the game in Luxembourg City on Wednesday.
“One of the biggest things was the way we moved the ball,” he said.
“We had 32 assists in the game and the way they shared the ball and played together was fun to see.
“From day one I’ve said just get better every day and as you’ve seen, the way they got better every game – that’s a testament to them, they came together unbelievably.”
GB forward Ovie Soko, ruled out of a playing role because of a late release from his appearance on ITV’s Love Island, was at the game but Nelson said this had not distracted the team in the preparation period.
“We’re all happy for Ovie but we focus on what we do on the court,” said the Spain-based guard. “Ovie’s been around the team and there have been cameras here but you learn to enjoy that stuff and the next day you get back at practice – as pros you have to be able to turn that off and on.”