Israel and Switzerland got their first wins of the 2019 Men’s European Championship being held in Wałbrzych, Poland.
It was another dominating performance by Spain as they swept past France, 76-25, in the opening game of the day in pool B. The pace of Spain’s attack caused France problems from the start and a 13-0 run at the end of the first quarter gave them a healthy lead. A lead which they built on, winning the second and third substantially by 21-8 and 24-2. France’s Head Coach, Ludovic Sarron, tried alternative line-ups to match-up to Spain but nothing worked as they struggled offensively shooting at only 17% from the field. With a 48-point lead, Spain eased off the pressure in the fourth and it was a more even quarter with France only losing it by three, 12-9.
Alejandro Zarzuela, Jordi Ruiz and Asier García all made double figures with 21 points, 15 points and 11 points respectively. Top scorer for the French was Alexis Ramonet with just 6 points.
Turkey made sure they kept their unbeaten record intact defeating the Netherlands 61-53 in an exciting encounter. Turkey stormed out to 13-point lead in the opening quarter, as the Netherlands struggled to find their rhythm in the game. A change of line-up by the Netherlands’ Head Coach, Cees Van Rootselaar, changed the tide of the game as they won the second quarter 19-9 and made it a three-point game going into the break. In the second half Turkey’s captain Özgür Gürbulak led them home with 10 points and nine assists to secure the victory.
Gijs Even led all scorers with 27 points followed by the Turkish trio of Özgür Gürbulak, Cem Gezinci and Uğur Toprak who scored 21, 16, and 14 points, respectively.
Turkey and Spain will meet in a top-of-the-pool decider tomorrow in the last game of the pool stages.
The last pool B clash of the day was between Israel and Russia, with Israel coming out on top of a low-scoring game, 58-36. Israel won all four quarters 15-11, 16-6, 13-12, and 14-7 to ensure they got their first win of the competition. Asael Shabo led the scoring for Israel with a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds, whilst Russia had a poor shooting day, converting from the field at only 26% and with not one player making double figures.
Highlights from Day 5 of the 2019 Men’s European Championship
Over in pool A, Poland put up a hearty fight against the world number one team, Great Britain, in the opening half. Led by Player-Coach Piotr Łuszyński’s 11 points, Poland kept it to within six points at half-time, 40-34.
At the start of the third, GB Head Coach Haj Bhania started a new line-up bringing in the trio of Ben Fox, Abdi Jama, and Ian Sagar for the first time in the game. The changes proved to work as they outscored Poland 20-9, giving themselves a 17-point advantage going into the final ten minutes. GB continued to build on their score and finished with a slightly flattering score-line of 83-61, to go 4-0 in the tournament.
Piotr Łuszyński led all scorers with a double-double of 27 points and 12 rebounds, and for Great Britain Lee Manning top scored with 17 points.
In the battle of the two bottom teams in pool A, Switzerland got their first win of their European campaign, seeing off Austria, 60-49.
In a tense opening quarter, both teams exchanged baskets for the first nine minutes until a three pointer by Maurice Amacher that gave Switzerland the lead for the first time in the game, one they didn’t relinquish throughout the rest of the game. They won the second and third quarters, 18-7 and 11-10, to give themselves a comfortable 17-point advantage going into the final ten minutes. Despite Austria winning the fourth, 18-12, Switzerland had done enough to seal the game and get their first win on the board.
Germany also kept their track record unblemished, as they saw off a spirited fight from Italy, 81-72. Throughout the first quarter Germany kept threatening to push out in front but Italy kept on their tails, and it was only thanks to two consecutive baskets by Dirk Passiwan that gave them a six-point advantage at the end of the first. Germany widened the gap slowly, adding an extra four points to their lead in the second, and three points to their lead in the third. The game looked over with six minutes remaining as Germany held an 18-point advantage, however Italy did not give up and went on a 16-5 run to bring it back to six points with two minutes to go. Passiwan again steadied the ship for the Germans though as they closed the game out.
Aliaksandr Halouski top scored for Germany with 29 points, Thomas Bohme had 27 points, whilst Dirk Passiwan was also influential in the win, just one rebound off a triple-double with 20 points, 9 rebounds and 18 assists. Giulio Maria Papi hit 20 points and Sabri Bedzeti had 16 points for Italy.
Germany will next play against the other undefeated side in pool A, Great Britain, to decide who finishes top of the pool.
The 2019 Men’s European Championship acts as the wheelchair basketball zonal qualification tournament for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, with the semi-finalist teams claiming the four available spots.
Photocredit – R Budek