Nate Reinking’s side came roaring out of the gates behind a huge dunk from Carl Wheatle and some great interior play by Gabe Olaseni, but some good ball movement gave the home side the looks to find a way back into the game and end the quarter leading 20-12.
Coach Reinking had predicted the game would be a fierce battle, and he was proven particularly right in the first half as some strong physical play in the second period saw Great Britain tie the game early doors and, despite Belgium finding their rhythm again to open a gap, the deficit was down to six at the end of the half at 33-27.
A 22-16 third quarter from the home side put them 12 points ahead as Belgium started to find more opportunities in transition from what proved to be costly turnovers for the visiting Great Britain, before Belgium ultimately saw out the game with a 72-57 win.
Myles Hesson and the returning Ovie Soko combined for 30 points on the night for GB, who as a team showed real tenacity and quality for sustained periods of the game, but Belgium – who had played five preparatory friendlies prior to the qualifying window – were more clinical in taking advantage of their opportunities.
Attention for GB now turns towards Sunday’s second qualifier of the window against Kristaps Porzingis and Latvia at Newcastle’s Vertu Motors Arena. Tickets are close to selling out for the Men’s team’s final home fixture before heading to EuroBasket, so be quick to order yours today by clicking here.