Luol Deng and Pops Mensah-Bonsu combined for 50 points as Great Britain took the honours in a pulsating 104-96 overtime success against FYR of Macedonia to spark a real party atmosphere in Newcastle.
|Luol Deng was the leader Great Britain needed when it counted and carried the Brits to an important home win|
It was certainly a fitting first contest for the unveiling of a brand new 32 million euro facility in the city although FYR of Macedonia will still be left wondering how this one got away after leading 83-76 with only a couple of minutes remaining.
Great Britain were really on the ropes and looking like a spent force at that point but the high flying Mensah-Bonsu and NBA star Deng pulled their side through.
With just a handful of seconds left in regulation, Mensah-Bonsu deliberately missed a second free-throw and much to the delight of the home fans, the ball made its way to Deng via a critical tip by Dan Clark and the Chicago man duly delivered with a three-pointer from the wing.
Led by Bo McCalebb who eventually finished with 30 points, FYR of Macedonia had the opportunity to take the win but failed to execute when it really mattered.
With the influential Pero Antic fouled out, the momentum inevitably swung the way of the hosts in overtime and rather aptly, local favourite Andrew Sullivan got a tip-in on the final buzzer to really round things off nicely for the Brits.
Mensah-Bonsu harvested 27 points and 11 rebounds and was awarded MVP status although that was maybe harsh on Deng who recorded 23 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists. Sullivan also impressed and only missed out on a double-double by one rebound.
In addition to McCalebb, it was the all round shooting performance of 17 point Dimitar Mirakovski that impressed for the visitors who will definitely be looking forward to the reverse fixture in Skopje later in the month.