Reigning World Champions Great Britain played Iraq for the first time ever in Dubai, as GBR came out with a dominant victory.
Game report by Omer Hagomer
GBR won the tip off and powerhouse Co-Captain Lee Manning scored 2 points after a loose ball. Manning was spectacular under the basket and Gregg Warburton added 2 points of his own to give GBR a 6 point lead. Hussein Bashara fired from the mid-range to get Iraq on the scoreboard.
On the opposite end of the floor, Co-Captain Phil Pratt utilised offensive rebounds to extend GBR’s lead. GBR were ruthless in both defense and transition with the speed of Warburton paying off. Iraq surrounded Manning in defense, but his size and power were too much to manage.
Hayder AL-Sarragi scored a heavily contested shot for Iraq, as James MacSorley, Martin Edwards, Kyle Marsh, and Lee Fryer checked in for GBR.
GBR missed a couple of shots and Iraq were in foul trouble in the first quarter. Edwards scored 1/2 from the free throw line. Fryer showcased a wonderful feat of balance and added 2 points off the backboard. Towards the end of the quarter, a frenzy of hook passes from both teams led to Fryer raising his personal tally up to 4 points. IRQ 6:21 GBR.
In the second quarter Ben Fox and Terry Bywater subbed in. Warburton was also back on the floor. Following a GBR timeout, Fox upped the ante with a block and scored a refreshing lay up in transition.
Veteran Bywater was outstanding at the defensive end, scoring an easy 2 after a mismatch. Leading up to half-time Iraq relied on offensive rebounds and second chances.
Fryer, Jim Palmer, Pratt, and Edwards checked in. Fryer instantly changed the landscape of the game; he was excellent at drawing fouls and sharp from the free throw line. Pratt was fantastic at assists and steals.
GBR were motivated as Marsh got on the scoreboard with a pinpoint precision shot. Iraq were forced into plenty of shot clock violations. The level of competition was off the charts, Ahmed Shiltagh scored a long 2 to lift the spirits of Iraq, but Edwards responded with 2 shots in quick succession. Heading into half-time Alaa AL-Baidhani scored 2 points from the free throw line for Iraq. IRQ 16:37 GBR.
Edwards made it look easy; he scored a couple of points in the third quarter. The agility of Fryer in transition earned him more points after a spectacular layup. Bashara capitalised on a few turnovers by GBR to minimise the lead. Nevertheless, Fryer was back to drawing more fouls and rewarding himself in the process.
With 3 minutes to go GBR led by 30 points, IRQ 20:50 GBR. Iraq were in team fouls as Palmer provided 2 points from the free throw line, Iraq called for a timeout with 2 minutes remaining in the quarter.
Bywater, S. Brown, MacSorley and Fox were back on the floor. The legendary Bywater scored an extraordinary 3-pointer heading into the last quarter, IRQ 20:62 GBR. Bywater anointed himself Mr. Consistency in the fourth quarter, GBR were playing like a well-oiled machine, but IRQ refused to relinquish the game, as Alaa Abdullah contributed to the scoresheet.
S. Brown scored a trademark layup after an amazing interception. Fox and Bywater put their chemistry on display for the world to see, as Bywater assisted Fox with a hook pass for 2.
Fryer was back on court and Harry Brown checked into the game with 4 minutes to go. Iraq showed signs of hope after a tremendous pick & roll play resulting in 2 points for Sajjad AL-Omairi. MacSorley returned the favour with 2 points.
The youngster, Fryer, had the hot hand in the last 2 minutes of the game. Although Saif AL-Taie scored 2 from long-range for Iraq, Marsh responded with a coast-to-coast layup. Then came a moment of respect and sportsmanship with H. Brown dribbling the ball with 20 seconds to go as GBR closed the game with a massive victory, IRQ 24:90 GBR.
GB’s Martin Edwards commented:
“A good team performance, obviously we are building throughout the tournament. I think when we ran in transition, we got all the looks we wanted. All the team contributed, I think eleven out of the 12 got on the scoresheet, and everyone put in a good shift today,”
“We move on to the next one now, the focus is on the USA in 2 days. Recovery and watching a bit of game tape to get our strategy ready. We are good to go, we are confident that we can go and do the business.”
S. Brown (4), K. Marsh (10), T. Bywater (13), H. Brown, P. Pratt (4), G. Warburton (8), M. Edwards (13), L. Manning (7), B. Fox (10), J. Palmer (2), J. MacSorely (2), L. Fryer (17).