There was a European showdown between Spain and Germany in the second men’s quarter-final of the wheelchair basketball competition at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
It was Germany who were awake from the beginning and got off to a 5-0 headstart. But after a time-out, Spain were back on track, bring the game back level and setting up what was to be an intense game. Fans around the world witnessed an elite-level wheelchair basketball game, with both teams shooting at a consistent field goal percentage of around 50%. Spain went into halftime with a 6 points lead. After the break, the game remained an open battle and so Germany went into the last quarter trailing by 6 points.
With 5 minutes 20 seconds remaining and a 4 points deficit Germany’s Head Coach Nicolai Zeltinger requested a chair check on Spain’s Asier Garcia Pereiro, following an official check it was ruled that the wheelchair was within the norms. As a consequence and as per the official rules, Germany’s coach received a technical foul. Garcia, back in his chair and on the court, hit the free throw which released a strong emotional reaction from the Spanish Team and the Spanish delegation on the stands. Boosted by these emotions, Spain gained momentum and increased their lead to 62-52 with a little more than 4 minutes to go.
The game, however, was not over yet as Thomas Böhme (16pts) and Andre Bienek (13pts) hit important shots to keep Germany within reach. In a real crunch-time thriller, Spain hung on to win 71-68. Garcia deserves Mr Clutch honours as he stayed ice-cold from the line, hitting 4 of his 6 free throws in the last 64 seconds, registering a triple-double (19pts, 16 rebounds and 13 assists) and also leading the team emotionally.
Spain’s Jordi Ruiz, reacted to their success, saying:
“That’s a pretty good achievement but we’ve been working so hard that we want a bit more.
“So we’re celebrating but we have the mind to know where we are and where we want to be.”
After an eventful game, Spain remains unbeaten, and advances to the semi-finals and will now face the USA. Germany will drop down to the Classification rounds to play for 7th place against Canada.
The semi-finals will take place Friday 3 September:
18:15 – Spain v USA
20:45 – GB v Japan
For a full wheelchair basketball schedule and results click here.
Photo: Shingo Ito X-1/ Quote OIS