In the first men’s quarter-final of the wheelchair basketball competition at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, reigning Paralympic champions USA face off against Turkey.
Turkey hit the stronger start and finished the first quarter up, 11-18. As the game progressed, USA slowly found their rhythm and made it an open, physical and intense encounter.
Midway through the last quarter with a sudden acceleration, USA managed to push ahead by 7 points. Turkey, led by Ozgur Gurbulak (21 points) and Ugur Toprak kept Turkey’s hope alive and set the stage for a crunch time game.
The US, heavily under pressure, did what they are known for. They remained calm and had the nerves to hit 5 of 6 free throws in the last 20 seconds of the game to prevail, 52 – 45.
USA advance to the semi-finals where they will face Spain, a rerun of the Rio 2016 final.. Turkey on the other side will play in Classification Games for fifth against Australia.
USA’s Trevon Jenifer explained the reasons for the success of his team:
“We got to go out here and play defence and that’s the number one thing we’ve got to do. We were able to lock in on the defensive end even though we weren’t hitting the offensive bunnies.
“This team has been together for quite some time now. To be able to rely on that chemistry, knowing where each other is without saying a couple of words. But then you turn around and add communication to that, it makes it 10 times better.”
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