On Day 2 at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games wheelchair basketball competitions, it was time for the men’s teams from Group B to enter the stage – meaning the top 4 teams of the 2018 World Championships joining the action.
At the Ariake Arena, the day tipped off with Germany’s men challenging the USA, reigning Rio 2016 Gold Medalists. In an intense and high-quality show-down, Germany went into the last quarter leading the USA by 2 points (40-42). In the final 10 minutes, Team USA underlined their ambition gently turning the score in their favour. It was Josh Turek who sealed the deal by keeping it cool with 17 seconds to go from the free-throw line and hitting his two free throws to finish with a final score of 58-55. USA’s Brian Bell was the games’ top scorer, with 20 points and Germany’s Thomas Bohme made a serious impression on the game with his 19 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assist.
Later in the day, Great Britain had its chance to test its new modus operandi as they faced Algeria. As a reminder, GB travelled to Tokyo without their Head Coach Haj Bhania. He had to enter the COVID protocol before departure and subsequently, it was decided that Gaz Choudhry takes on the role of player-coach for the event. He will be supported by his teammate Lee Manning, who will act as assistant player-coach in Tokyo. Apparently, the coaching role did not impact their on-court performance as both scored in the double digits (Choudhry, 11pts / Manning 10pts). With both teams having three players scoring 10 or more points, it was GB who took home the victory with a final score of 70-43.
In the final game of Group B’s first day, Australia flexed its muscles to beat Iran by 42 points with a final score 81-39. Throughout the game, all 12 Australian players clocked a minimum of 8 minutes and 10 players managed to get their name on the scoreboard – with Brett Stibners contributing 21 points. Despite Stibners’ excellent performance, the highest-scoring player of the game was Iran’s Mohammadhassan Sayari with 22 points.
Meanwhile, in Group A, Canada suited up for its first game to face Spain. It turns out Spain was still in rhythm from their late-night game the eve before (defeating Korea) as they outscored Canada in the first Quarter by 10-23. Throughout the game, Spain managed to unleash additional energies to bring up the final score to 41-78. Canada’s Nikola Goncin demonstrated resistance by scoring 15 points in 30 minutes. On Spain’s side, it was Asier Garcia who set the tone by scoring 23 points.
In a game that remained open for a long time, it was Turkey who showed persistence to beat Korea with 70-80. In a high scoring game, we saw a scoring contest between Seung Hyun Cho (KOR) 26pts, Dong Hyeon Gim (KOR) 25pts and Ozgur Gurbulak (TUR) 25pts.
To finish off the day with a highlight, Japan’s men’s team made their debut in a face-off with Colombia. Japan’s enthusiasm transferred to an excellent first-quarter performance (15-24). A lead that Japan would defend until the end of the game for a 56-63 victory. Japan’s hero of the night was Kei Akita showing no signs of nervousness as he dropped 24 points with a shooting percentage of 67%.
For full wheelchair basketball schedule and results click here.
Pictures: Shingo Ito X-1