On day 9 of the wheelchair basketball competition at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games it was showtime for the women and the first semi-final was an all European affair. The match-up of Germany against the Netherlands was a pairing with history. More precisely, a history with bad memories for the Netherlands. This very same pairing was the semi-final at the Rio 2016 and London 2012 Paralympic Games. On both occasions, Germany defeated the Netherlands and sent the Dutch to the Bronze medal game. 

From the first minute on, it was a head-to-head race, with countless lead changes in the first half. Both teams prioritized their defensive efforts and struggled to get into their offensive flow. Certainly, nervousness played a role on both sides with a higher number of turnovers and missed layups than usual from these two top teams. At halftime, it was the Netherlands that led by 1, 25-26. 

Second half, same show. The game may not have been of the highest quality, but that was secondary as fans from both countries saw an exciting and emotional game. By the end of the third, Germany turned their 1 point deficit to a 1 point advantage. Until midway through the last quarter it continued to be open – with 6 minutes 35seconds on the clock, the score stood at 39-39. What followed was a 6-0 run by the Netherlands. From a German perspective, three turnovers during crunch time and too many missed shots led to too many easy fastbreak points at the worst possible time. Germany could not pull a response to Netherlands’ run and so they were outscored 6-17 in the final ten minutes. Final score 42-54 for the Netherlands, who were carried by Mariska Beijer (30pts, 19 rebounds) and Bo Kramer who also registered a double-double (14pts, 13 rebounds).

Netherlands’ Head Coach Gertjan Van Der Linden reflected on their win, saying:

“We did a real great job in defence. They scored 42 points, so we did a great job. So that must be the start and then you see on the offence what will happen.”

A historic win for the Netherlands as they advance to their first finals since the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games. Germany will play for the Bronze against USA.

The Bronze and Gold games will take place Saturday 4 September:

17:45 – Germany v USA
20:30 – China v Netherlands

For a full wheelchair basketball schedule and results click here.

Photo: Shingo Ito X-1/ Quote OIS