The final day of the preliminary stages at the 2019 Men’s European Championship saw the quarter-final match-ups confirmed.
Great Britain clashed against old rivals Germany in the race for top spot in pool A. The German team kept it close in the opening quarter, only a three-point play by Harrison Brown in the closing seconds giving GB the edge, 17-14. A physical second quarter saw the lead out stretch out to nine points, 35-26, at the end of the half.
Germany kept themselves in it and were still within range going in to the fourth, 10 points down. The final quarter started with a 10-4 run for GB which gave them some breathing space, whilst Germany found themselves in foul trouble with Nico Dreimüller getting fouled out. The final score was 75-58, so GB go through to the last eight as pool winners, with Germany in second place.
Great Britain captain Philip Pratt said:
“The tournament has been great so far, we’ve won all our group games now and we are going into the quarter-finals. The team is just starting to gel. It has been a weird preparation for us because four of our players have been unwell and we are just fighting through that.
“The game against Germany was our toughest game in the group and we played as well as we have the whole tournament so really good result.
“We have history against France in big games, such as 2010. Although I wasn’t in that team, watching how devastated the guys were, we don’t want that to happen to us so we are not taking it lightly whatsoever. We are going to go in with the same preparation as every game, such as video and learn how to play against them.”
Italy saw off a stubborn Switzerland team, 53-44, to finish third in pool A behind Germany and GB. Switzerland were trying to keep themselves in the running for a quarter-final place and kept within two points of Italy in the first quarter, 12-10. A nine-point run at the start of the second quarter ensured Italy won the second quarter, 17-11, to take a small lead going in to the second half. There was only one point between the two teams in the second half, which meant Italy had held off the Swiss challenge, and confirmed they finished in third spot in the pool, with Switzerland set to play in the 9-12 classification games
Rounding up the games in pool A, hosts Poland defeated Austria by 9 points, 57-48, to finish fourth in the pool and progress to the quarter-finals. The first half was probably closer than Poland would like as they took a two-point lead into the break, but Player-Coach Piotr Łuszyński, who scored 27 points, led Poland home winning the final two quarters 19-14 and 14-12.
Highlights of day 6
Spain against reigning European Champions Turkey was the top-of-the-table clash in pool B. Spain stormed out of the blocks in the first half pushing out to a 16-point lead by the break. The third quarter continued in the same fashion as Turkey struggled to find an answer to stop Spain, with the deficit now at twenty points. A mini revival saw Turkey win the fourth 17-12, but Spain had finished the pool stages on a high winning, 61-76, to finish top of pool B and set up a quarter-final game against Poland, whilst Turkey are set to meet Italy.
Spain’s Head Coach Oscar Trigo said after the game:
“Today is the final in the process of the pool games. We are playing very very strong in defence and getting a lot of fast break opportunities, playing very dynamic basketball. For us now we are happy as this is how we prepared to play like for this tournament and it was our goal.
“We won all our pool games with a big scoreline, this is a problem now we are looking to the crossovers, as we will be up against Poland who are very strong, so we will have to ensure that we have a lot of concentration and focus on this game.“
The Netherlands ensured they head into the quarter-finals with confidence, finishing in style with a 71-52 victory against Israel. The victory ensured the Netherlands third spot in pool B and a quarter-final game against Germany. Israel finish fifth in the pool and will play in the 9-12 classification games.
The Netherlands’ Mustafa Korkmaz was the game’s top scorer with 24 points, and Israel’s Shay Barbibay hit 21 points.
The Netherlands’ Gijs Even, said:
“We’ve had our ups and downs so far this tournament. We had a really good game yesterday against Turkey we just came up a bit short; against Spain we were a bit surprised by their aggression; apart from that we just need to keep on playing team basketball and just go out as a team to try and get the win.
“We’ve got the quarter-final against Germany and we know how they play, we just need to execute our game plan properly.”
France secured the final quarter-final spot finishing fourth in pool B defeating Russia by ten, 76-66. The combination of Alexis Ramonet and Louis Hardouin, who scored 27 points and 19 points, respectively, proved too much for Russia to match-up against in the first three quarters, despite rallying in the fourth outscoring France by four points. France ensured themselves a place in the last eight against World Champions Great Britain. The loss meant Russia finished bottom of pool B and head into the 9-12 classification games.
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.