Crowds were treated to some spectacular wheelchair basketball as the top eight men’s teams matched up in the quarter-finals of the 2018 Wheelchair Basketball World Championships in Hamburg, Germany.
Great Britain were the first team to qualify for the semi-finals, putting their heartache of being knocked out of the last two World Championships (2010 & 2014) in the quarterfinals behind them. GB, who were trailing by two points with three minutes to go, 58-60, relied on the experience of Terry Bywater to help them on a nine-point answered run to finish the game 67-62 up.
Great Britain’s captain, Philip Pratt, said, “It was a really tough game and it was always going to be a tough game, for me it felt like we needed payback, as we lost to them in the semi-finals of the Paralympic Games We had to be really strong and we were, able to pull away in our last ball possession phases. “
Following their women’s team comfortably defeating Argentina in their last pool game, USA men followed suit, making their way through to the semi-finals untroubled as they saw off Argentina, 72 – 31.
At the end of the first quarter, there were only points in it as the USA led by 16-13, but USA increased their defensive pressure for the next three quarters, to which Argentina had no answers, allowing the USA to progress to the final four.
USA’s Head Coach, Ron Lykins, said, “We were ready to play, we have a lot of respect for the Argentinian’s, they are a really good team and we knew it would be a tough game, our players were ready for the game, for a while It was a close game, our second line-up was used and they played well, which gave us some freedom and allowed us to play more relaxed and free. “
Turkey and Iran met, in the third quarter-final game and what was the most passionate game of the championships so far. A boisterous Turkish crowd buoyed on Turkey as the current European Champions got off to the better start of the two teams and held an eight-point advantage early on. However, the Iranian’s did not lie down without a fight and thanks to the towering trio of Omid Hadiazhar (22 pts / 7 reb / 5 asts), Morteza Ibrahim (23 pts / 10 reb) and Morteza Abedi (21 pts / 8 reb), the Iranians fought back to take the win, 76 – 69.
Iran’s Saman Balaghi Einalou, commented after the game, “No one would have thought that we would come this far, we definitely want to reach the final with all our might. “
The fourth and final team that progressed to the semi-finals, were the reigning champions the Australian Rollers, defeating Poland, 83-70. In a team performance, five Australians were able to reach double-digits, including a double-double from captain Shaun Norris (15pts, 11asts).
Australia’s Bill Latham, said, “Poland were a very strong opponent, they played at the same level as us. We now have one night to recover and prepare for the USA.”
For all results and more information click here.
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Photos and quotes courtesy of Rollstuhlbasketball WM 2018 Hamburg – MSSP Michael Schwartz / Uli Gasper