Great Britain secured their seventh European gold medal with an outstanding performance in the final of the 2019 Men’s European Championship, which was taking place in Wałbrzych, Poland, defeating Spain, 77-52.
A slow start from both teams meant we didn’t see the first points on the board until after two minutes, as Great Britain’s captain Philip Pratt slotted home two from the free-throw line kick-starting an 8-0 run. Despite getting a number of good looks, Spain’s first points also came from the free-throw line from Jordi Ruiz but not until six minutes into the opening quarter. Spain’s high foul count sent GB to the line as they added to their advantage.
A change of line-up from Spain’s head coach Oscar Trigo brought Agustín Alejos Alonso and Fran Lara into the game and it sparked Spain’s scoring, as Alonso scored five quick points to bring the deficit back to nine points at the end of the first, 16-7.
Spain stuck to the task in the second quarter with David Mouriz sinking a three-pointer to bring it back to a six-point game, 27-21, but then GB went on another 8-0 run to leave Spain trailing by fourteen points at half time, 35-21.
After the break, the high foul count continued to restrict the flow of the game, but Spain kept trying to find an answer to GB’s strong offence and defence. The World Champions extended their lead though to twenty-one points, winning the quarter 23-16 thanks to thirteen points from Terry Bywater.
As the fourth quarter started with GB up 58-37, the game had a sense of inevitability about it, but it provided an opportunity for GB to show the strength of their bench as head coach Haj Bhania rotated his players into the game to help them secure the win and take back their European title, 77-52.
The scoring highlighted GB’s team performance with it spread evenly amongst the players, Bywater leading their scoring with 19 points followed by Harry Brown with 12 points. For Spain, Alonso stood out making 23 points, as Manu Lorenzo and Asier García got 10 points each.
Following the game, veteran of the team Abdi Jama, who picked up his fourth European gold medal said:
“We pressed them, and our guys did a phenomenal job, the pressing unit was outstanding. Our defence was incredible, the best defence I’ve seen us play for many years and that made the difference; and when you’ve got a guy like Terry coming on, he’s a machine and he’s knocking shots down, it opens the floor for me and the rest of the guys. It was a great team performance, everyone has their role to play – the coaches, the staff, the bench – and whatever five players were on the court gave a phenomenal performance.
“It feels amazing to win gold. I think the team spirit we have is incredible. Going unbeaten through the whole tournament is just an amazing feeling, so Tokyo is the next one and we keep moving on.”
Looking ahead to Tokyo 2020 Jama said:
“We will prepare as we usually do. Most of the players will be playing in the Spanish league or around Europe, and we will train hard as usual and give it all we’ve got. It’s a big year we know. We are going to try and make the semi-final of Tokyo and put to bed the tradition of losing in a semi-final at a Paralympics and get into the final. Once we are in a final it’s a different question. We are a winning team at the moment and we’ll keep on rolling.”
Re-watch the European Championship Gold Medal Game