There were wins for Spain, Great Britain, Turkey, Italy, Netherlands and Germany on day four as we head into the business end of the group stage at the 2019 Men’s European Championship, being held in Wałbrzych, Poland.
Spain retained their undefeated record opening the day with a 75-56 victory over Israel in pool B. Spain struggled to shake Israel in the first 15 minutes of the game, but Israel’s poor discipline at the end of the second quarter allowed Augustin Alonso to score 6 out of 6 from the line to give Spain a nine-point lead at the break. The third quarter was all square, so it was still all to play for in the fourth. An 8-2 run at the beginning of the quarter for Spain though, gave them the breathing space they needed to close the game out.
Jordi Ruiz came off the bench for Spain scoring 17 points, with Asier Garcia Spain’s top scorer with 19.
Reigning Champions Turkey ensured they remained tied at the top of pool B with Spain, thanks to a 91-59 victory over France. Turkey won all four quarters – 25-21, 24-11, 20-9, and 22-18 – as they ran out clear winners of the game. Turkish youngster Ahmet Efeturk, recently promoted from Turkey’s U23 national side, was their main scorer with 30 points, edging France’s Alexis Ramonet’s 29 points to be the game’s top scorer.
The final pool B game of the day was between the Netherlands and Russia. Newly promoted Russia struggled to cope with the speed of the Netherlands´ starting line-up, as they pushed out to a commanding lead 24-8. The advantage allowed head coach Cees Van Rootselaar to rotate all his squad into the game as they won both the second and third quarters. Russia rallied in the last 10 minutes winning the final quarter, 14-15, but the game was already won as it finished 72-40, giving the Netherlands their second victory of the tournament.
Netherlands´ Mendel Op Den Orth was the game’s top scorer with 20 points, followed closely by teammate Mustafa Korkmaz scoring 17 points. Russia’s main scoring threats came from Vasily Kochetkov and Dimitry Sitnikov both with the same double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Highlights from Day 4
Great Britain continued to showcase why they are currently the number one team in the world with another professional performance over Austria, 95-39. In a team performance where all players (apart from captain Philip Pratt who didn’t suit up for the game) got on the scoresheet, Great Britain ensured they stayed top of pool A winning all four quarters 27-13, 24-13, 12-8, and 32-5.
Four players made double digits for Great Britain, George Bates top scoring with 24 points. Austria struggled to convert, shooting at only 29%, with Christoph Edler leading their attack with 12 points.
Germany also kept up their winning ways to ensure they stayed level with Great Britain in pool A, overcoming Switzerland, 80-42. Again, it was thanks to the scoring threat of Aliaksandr Halouski and Dirk Passiwan, both scoring at close to 70%, that led them to be the games top scorers with 22 points and 19 points, respectively. Maurice Amacher top scored for Switzerland with 11 points.
The third game in pool A proved to be the game of the day, with hosts Poland losing to Italy by just two points, 70-68. Poland, who were still recovering from their heart-breaking loss against Germany the day before, opened up an 11-point advantage after the first quarter, 21-10. Italy cut the deficit to just two points by winning the second quarter 22-14, and the third quarter 21-20. In the fourth quarter the lead changed hands several times, with Italy taking a three-point lead going in to the final minute. The nerves were showing as the last minute had everything – fouls, missed free-throws, one scored free-throw, missed lay-ups, steals, turnovers, and a buzzer beater to take the game to over-time that didn´t drop, which meant Poland suffered their second close defeat in two days.
Top scorer for the game was Italy’s Marco Stupenengo with 21 points, followed by teammate Sabri Bedzeti and Poland’s player-coach Piotr Łuszyński, both with 19 points.
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