At the beginning of Day 3 at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, both European teams in Group A – Spain & Turkey had their eye on the top-seeded spots.
Despite a gutsy performance from Colombia, in a game which saw the Hispanic opponents go eye to eye for three-quarters of the game, the Rio 2016 Silver Medalists Spain were too strong in the end and Spain claimed their third consecutive win, 74-56.
In the second game of the day in Group A, Turkey held off a resurgence from Canada to secure a 77-73 overtime win. It was the Canadian top scorer combo that sent the game to overtime: Nikola Goncin (33 points) made the wide-open fastbreak lay-up with 6 seconds to go following an assist by Patrick Anderson (24 points). Nonetheless, persistence and a strong double-double from Ozgur Gurbulak (28 points, 13 assists – and 8 rebounds) secured Turkey’ second win.
The final game of the day at the Ariake Arena hosted the Asian showdown between Korea and Japan. Japan was carried by good performances from Reo Fujimoto (21pts) and Kei Akita (17pts, 11 assists). The 59-52 win for Japan over Korea means Group A is split into 3 teams with clean winning records (Spain, Turkey, Japan) and 3 teams (Korea, Colombia, Canada) that will have to battle for the fourth and last quarter-final spot.
As for Group B, Australia continued their momentum winning their second game again by more than 40 points difference. They beat Algeria 37-83 and now have a 2-0 W record with a healthy +88 point difference. Coach Craig Friday used the opportunity to equally distribute minutes amongst his squad.
Later in the day, the USA outscored Iran by 24 points in a 41-65 success. Steve Serio supported his team with a double-double of 12 points and 10 assists. With this victory the USA is the only other team next to Australia with a clean record.
Serio, seemed satisfied with his team performance after the game, adding:
“With the Covid lay-off, this tournament is about improving each and every day. And today I feel like we took a step in that direction.”
Germany and Great Britain matched up in the other third game from Group B. Yesterday, Germany’s men were close to beat the Rio Gold Medalists USA but instead of mourning their last-minute loss, they showed up today especially hungry as they faced the current World Champions, Great Britain. Their mental effort paid off and in a strong team performance, it was Thomas Böhme (double-double – 27 points, 10 rebounds) who made the difference in a 71-59 Germany victory.
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Pictures: Shingo Ito X-1/Steffie Wunderl