09 Dec 14
EuroBasket Women 2015 promises to be a fascinating battle for the Great Britain senior women as they bid to realise their Olympic 2016 dream.
Victory over Ukraine in their final Group A game on Monday could be enough to see Joe Prunty's side advance.
And with stellar performances from several of his younger players, including Lawrence and Myles Hesson, Prunty was delighted with how his team dealt with the pressure of what was effectively an elimination game.
"I thought we did a great job on keeping them in check," said Prunty. "On the offensive end, we got a lot of positive contributions from a lot of people. We had just seven turnovers which is a great effort. Andrew [Lawrence] played his best game, shot well, played some great defence. Myles Hesson was great again. And Dan Clark played extremely hard, drawing a lot of attention out on the floor."
Alex King started an early German surge, scoring nine of his eleven points in a three-minute spell during an 11-2 burst that saw his side go 23-13 in front.
However a three-pointer from Clark sparked Britain into life and they quickly compiled eleven unanswered points to edge in front. And although Germany responded, Scottish forward Kieron Achara hit a three-pointer that secured a 42-38 advantage at half-time.
In the second half, the lead went back and forth six times more. Although Germany held GB without a field goal for seven minutes, Birmingham-born Hesson - who had 21 points and 11 rebounds - was tenacious in pursuing every stray ball, while drawing fouls. And it was with a free throw that he put GB 51-50 ahead late in the third period. Prunty's men would never trail again.
Although Tibor Pleiss, who had a team-high 20 points and 14 rebounds, cut the German deficit to 73-69 with two minutes left, Devon van Oostrum provided a decisive late cameo. And with Lawrence inspirational, GB secured a priceless victory.
"I like playing under that kind of pressure," said Lawrence. "I felt like we had a good strategy today. We got the win, but full credit to Germany, they played well."
Now GB's attention will turn to Ukraine (Monday, 1.30pm BST) and a win which would be historic for British Basketball. One of the most physically imposing teams, and coached by former NBA playcaller Mike Fratello, it will be another tough test for GB.
"We certainly know we have a tough task ahead of us," said Prunty. "They've played extremely well to this point. Tomorrow is a huge game."