Great Britain claimed the Standard Life GameOn! Series against Portugal with an 86-66 result in their second successive contest in Sheffield.
Kyle Johnson was the stand out performer as he had the hot hand on 8/10 shooting in a 21 point haul.
Johnson said: “ I felt comfortable after I made the first one but it was my team mates that got me the ball so I Give full credit to them.I feel like I am improving all the time but I am just trying to get my confidence back. Our preparation for the Olympics has been great and the anticipation is crazy so I just can’t wait to get there.”
His numbers were backed up with an excellent second half cameo from Eric Boateng who bagged 11 points in quick succession late in the game.
However, Great Britain came out the blocks slow again as they allowed the visitors to build an early lead.
Portugal raced into a 9-4 advantage on a Joao Gomez shot from beyond the arc but GB battled back to tie the scores at 11. The hosts then closed the opening period with a 6 point streak without reply as the first ten minutes ended with GB 21-14 ahead.
Johnson stepped onto the court in the second quarter scoring 9 points in his first 12 minutes of court time. He continued GB’s scoring with an impressive step-back shot that resulted in nothing but net. Luol Deng contributed two scores in a 9 point blaze that saw GB take a 35-18 lead midway through the period. He leant back for a fade away shot off the glass before stopping and popping a three point dagger.
Two consecutive triples from the Portuguese brought the score to 41-29 but Johnson scored two of his own driving to the basket to give GB a 46-29 cushion at the break.
Back to back scores from Portugal opened the scoring in the second half still trailing at 49-33. Great Britain were persistent at both ends of the floor to keep their noses in front. Nate Reinking pulled up for a clean three point shot to open up a 20 point advantage at 57-37. Kieron Achara who was perfect from the three point line drilled in his third three of the game to end the quarter 61-45 to the good.
Boateng and Johnson lit up the scoreboard in the final stanza. Boateng added a quick fire eight points ending on a powerful dunk over an unsuspecting Portugal player. Johnson was five out of five on his next score from beyond the line to extend the gap to 73-57. He punished the Portuguese on the perimeter twice more; scoring his last triple on the foul but was unable to complete the four point play ending his perfect tally. The teams traded baskets from the free-throw line before Johnson swished one more three from the corner to finalise the scores.
Andrew Lawrence was named MVP of the series after a fine all round performance. He was modest on his acceptance of the award.
“I really appreciate it because I wasn’t necessarily the highest scoring guy on the team but I feel like I did other things to contribute which has been recognised in the MVP award. I just come in and try and play my role so I am just happy with the two wins.”
GB Women put in a stellar performance in the final game of the weekend beating Olympic competitors France by a 74-67 verdict in a cagey affair. GB battled back from a double digit deficit early on to square the game at 30 a piece by halftime.
Jo Leedham was the top scorer with 23 points and named MVP of the tournament. They persevered trading leads with the French until scores from Leedham and a three ball from Natalie Stafford created the winning margin.
Both national teams will now prepare for arguably the contest of the summer against reigning Olympic Champions, the USA.