The 2019 Asia Oceania Championships, which will be the zone’s biggest event in its history with 22 teams competing from 15 countries, got underway today with a thrilling game of basketball at the Eastern National Sports Centre in Pattaya, Thailand.
Praiwan Aromchuen, Member of Pattaya City Council and President of the Chonburi-Pattaya, officially declared the Championships open at the Opening Ceremony, where all teams, officials, special guests, and sponsors were warmly welcomed by Aromchuen and IWBF Asia Oceania President Saad Alazma.
“It is a pleasure to be able to welcome all 22 teams to Thailand for the 2019 Asia Oceania Championships. This is the biggest number of teams we have ever had for a tournament in the Asia Oceania Zone and I’m proud of the development and the growth all members in our zone are making, especially within the women’s game – to have 8 countries represented doubles our amount from the last Zone Championship and it really showcases the work and effort both the zone and you have been doing. I truly believe our future is very exciting.”
Following the Opening Ceremony, the opening men’s game saw hosts Thailand get off to a winning start, 66-59, in an exciting game against opponents China.
In front of a noisy and excitable home crowd, Thailand took an early lead 18-14, but China kept it close by winning the second quarter, 19-10, to take a slight five point advantage, 33-28, into the half-time break.
An 8-0 run from Thailand at the beginning of the third helped them retake the lead and dominate the quarter to give themselves a five point margin going into the final ten minutes.
China did not stop pushing and pulled back to level the game with a few minutes remaining on the clock. However, their aggressive play saw them get in foul trouble, losing a player for a second unsportsmanlike, allowing Thailand to finish the game with points from the line and in transition, and take a seven-point victory to open their campaign.
The game’s top scorer with 30 points was Thailand’s Kwanchai Pimkorn, who impressively scored 24 points from the three-point range.
Following the win, Thailand’s Head Coach Mohammadreza Dastyar said:
“China are a very good team. Before, in Jakarta, we lost to China, so to get the win here is very good. I must thank my players, they listened to me. We came out and won the first quarter, then lost the second quarter, but continued to fight to then go on to win the final two quarters. This is basketball. Basketball is playing for 40 minutes.
“We will now continue to try to keep winning. We really hope we can get to the Paralympics, this is my hope and it would be the first time for Thailand to achieve this.”
The championships, being hosted by the Sports Association for Wheelchair Basketball Thailand, will tell us which countries from the Asia Oceania Zone will qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Tomorrow is the first full day of action with 10 matches over two courts over the course of the day.