Great Britain made their fifth consecutive European Championship final after knocking out current reigning champions Turkey, 94-81, in the semi-finals of the 2019 Men’s European Championship in Wałbrzych, Poland.
Turkey came out on fire in the first quarter shooting their way to a seven-point lead at quarter time, 25-18, shooting at 85% for the quarter.
Turkey added to their advantage at the start of the second period to go twelve points up, but it was Harry Brown adding two points from the top of the key and a three-point play that kept GB within range. With Turkey in control, there was a change of line-up from GB’s Head Coach Haj Bhania, introducing the experience of veterans Terry Bywater, Ian Sagar, and Abdi Jama, and that helped GB bring the game back to trail by just two at half-time, 43-45.
Led by Bywater’s 15 points in the quarter, GB took the lead for the first time since the opening stages of the game. Turkey’s discipline started to wane and the quarter ended on a technical foul against the Turkish coach, Ahmet Akin, assisting GB to win the quarter 30-17 and take an eleven-point lead into the final quarter, 73-62.
Despite their best efforts Turkey lost the fourth quarter 21-19 and could not cut GB’s advantage as the World Champions progressed to their twelfth European final with a high scoring win.
Top-scorer Terry Bywater, with 34 points, said after the game:
“It’s always a tough game against Turkey. They are one of the best teams in Europe and that’s why they are in the semi-final. We played well but they just played fantastic today, I think that was probably the best game they played in the tournament. In the first quarter they were shooting the ball at 85% and we were shooting it at 61%, losing by ten, but it was a fantastic team performance from everyone to come back and get the win.
“It’s not just a final, it’s another final, that’s five in a row now. It’s amazing that we keep on doing it as well as reaching the final of the World’s. It’s going to be tough, it always is in a final, that’s what finals are, but there is a huge belief in this group and I’ve never been involved in a group like it. With all the young ones coming through they are bringing that massive belief with them.
“Our main goal was to qualify for Tokyo, but it was always in the back of our minds we wanted to come away with gold. After winning the World’s it doesn’t make sense to just come here and our main goal be qualifying for Tokyo, it was always a gold medal and now we’ve only got one game to go so it’s a realistic goal now. We are all excited about it and I think we can do it.”
Re-watch the semi-final
Great Britain now face Spain in the European Championship final at 17:00. Turkey will take on Germany in the bronze medal game at 14:30.
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.