Great Britain, Germany, Turkey and Spain all booked the places at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games as well as progressing to the 2019 Men’s European Championship semi-final’s tomorrow, following a day of quarter-final action in Wałbrzych, Poland.
The first team to confirm their ticket to Japan was current reigning World Champions Great Britain as they cruised past France, 93-51.
Great Britain powered ahead in the first five minutes opening up a 14-4 lead, a margin they kept until the end of the quarter, 25-15. GB killed the game off in the second quarter as their defensive pressure contained France to just six points, whilst they hit twenty-six points themselves, including eight from Terry Bywater, making it a thirty-point game.
The third quarter was much of the same as Great Britain’s Head Coach Haj Bhania rotated all his squad into the game, winning the quarter 25-15. The French managed to cut down the GB scoring in the final ten minutes as GB took it 17-15, but the difference in the quality and depth in both teams was clear to see.
Four British players hit double figures, George Bates leading the way scoring 18 points, whilst France’s Alexi Ramonet was next in line with 16.
Germany became the second team to advance through to tomorrow’s semi-finals following their 72-63 victory over the Netherlands.
The game started evenly until a 13-0 run from Germany halfway through the opening quarter gave them control of the game, leading by ten going in to the second. They built on this throughout the period to take a commanding lead, 42-29 into the break.
Germany, who are current European bronze medallists, saw off a tough fight from the Netherlands in the second half who brought it back from being twenty points down, to a seven point game with just under two minutes to go, but two free-throws by Dirk Passiwan effectively put the game to bed, meaning Germany took the win.
The Netherlands had 69 shot attempts compared to 55 attempts by Germany, but it was Germany who converted their chances shooting at 52% from the field compared to the Netherlands 37% which won them the game.
The returning Dirk Passiwan has been key to Germany’s success in this championship, as it proved again with the Netherlands unable to stop him, finishing with 24 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds. Mendel Op Den Orth scored 21 points to top score for the Netherlands.
Germany’s Head Coach, Nicolai Zeltinger, said:
“We were really on fire today and we have some amazing shooters. Tomorrow we will have to play better defence, but we can’t wait to play in the semi-final.
“We are obviously excited to have qualified for Tokyo 2020, but we are in the middle of a tournament and will be focused on that until it is over, then I think we will realise what we have accomplished.”
In the third quarter-final, Turkey remained on track to defend their European title as they narrowly beat Italy, 63-58, in what was to be the most exciting and intense game of the quarter-finals.
A number of turnovers in the first quarter from Italy allowed Turkey to take a slight lead, 15-10, but the second quarter went to Italy, 20-14, giving them a one-point advantage at the end of the half.
The lead exchanged hands five times at the beginning of the third as the game ebbed and flowed, but a small scoring run from Turkey gave them a seven-point lead going into the final quarter, 50-43. Italy battled back once more as the momentum shifted again when they brought it back to a one-point game with five minutes to go. A time-out from Turkey seemed to work for them as they quickly extended out to a five-point lead. The Italians weren’t finished yet, and tied the game at 56-56 entering the final two minutes of the game. You could feel the tension in the stadium, and maybe the experience of the Turkish team saw them home as they restricted Italy to only one more basket, to take the victory by five points.
Hosts Poland were left disappointed after losing to a smart Spanish outfit in the last quarter-final of the day, 79-62.
Spain shot out to a 16-3 lead midway through the first quarter, with Piotr Łuszyński’s three pointer the only score on the board for Poland, as the period ended 21-9. However, backed by a vocal home crowd, Poland did not let Spain get out of reach as they tied the second quarter 17-17, to keep it to a twelve-point gap.
Spain added to their advantage in the third to give themselves a little breathing space going into the fourth, up 59-40. Despite Poland winning the fourth quarter 22-20, Spain had done enough already to make their way to the semi-final and ensure their place in Tokyo next year.
Spain’s captain Asier Garcia was influential with a triple-double of 24 points, 12 rebounds and 15 assists, but Jordi Ruiz was on fire in the game shooting at 66% and top scoring with 28 points.
Great Britain will now take on Turkey in the first semi-final at 14:30, a re-run of the last three finals at the Europeans, whilst Germany will come up against Spain at 16:45.
Watch highlights from Day 8
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.