EuroBasket 2015: Joe Prunty admits Great Britain must improve defence

Joe Prunty insists that his side’s defence must improve if they are to beat Iceland in their penultimate qualifier

Great Britain basketball head coach Joe Prunty insists that his side’s defence must improve if they are to beat Iceland in their penultimate qualifier and earn their place at next summer’s EuroBasket finals.

Despite securing their spot for the last three tournaments, the team have a tough ask on their hands this time around after they lost their second consecutive qualifier against Bosnia at the Copper Box Arena in London on Wednesday night.

NBA star Mirza Teletovic of the Brooklyn Nets top-scored with 25 points to inflict an 80-67 reverse on GB, meaning a first home defeat in a qualifying match since 2006.

With only the top team in the three-nation group guaranteed a place at EuroBasket, GB must now win both of their remaining games to have any chance of securing their spot.

Against Bosnia, Great Britain recovered from a slow start to hit a 22-6 run and trail 66-73 with four minutes to go.

But Prunty, who coached Teletovic while at the Nets last season, believes that his side can still qualify if they can up the ante ahead of their Iceland clash next Wednesday.

“Our defence needs to improve. We were too scrambled at times and that is where they had stronger stretches, when we got more aggressive and more intense we were better,” said Prunty, who has recently been appointed as the assistant coach of the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA.

We’ve got to show up and play right from the jump

Joe Prunty

“But Bosnia deserve a lot of credit. There were stretches where they did some really good things and shorter stretches, unfortunately, where we did some good things. Unfortunately we gave up easy lay-ups and when you’re trying to get on a run you can’t afford to give up those plays.

“We’re fighting and scrapping and I like that we’re fighting, but that intensity has to be there for 40 minutes. We can’t be down by 20-plus points in the second-half and still expect to win.

“We’ve got to show up and play right from the jump. We watched a lot of film to prepare for this game, we knew who their key guys were but we gave up too many lay-ups and that was the same problem against Iceland. We need to find answers to that.”

Dan Clark top-scored for the hosts with 14 points while Kieron Achara and Kyle Johnson both added 13.

Ben Mockford also impressed during his 11 minutes and Prunty believes that the 24-year-old from Kent can have a big future.

“Ben Mockford was really good,” added Prunty. “He came in off the bench and fought for every ball. We’ve spoken to Ben and told him what his role is for this team and I thought that he did a great job. His grittiness and fight is what we have to be about as a team, and that was great to see from him.”

Great Britain take on Iceland in their final home qualifier for EuroBasket 2015 later this month. You can book tickets for the game at the Copper Box at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Wednesday 20th August via www.theticketfactory.com or 0844 338 8000.

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