A formidable figure in Great Britain’s men’s wheelchair basketball team, Lee Manning says that there is no room for complacency as every team would be ready to put their best foot forward at the ongoing IWBF Wheelchair Basketball World Championships – Dubai 2022.
Great Britain men’s team opened their title defence in style, winning 90-59 against Iran in a Group D game on Saturday and Manning was once again in the limelight finishing as the top scorer for the team scoring 31 points, with Philip Pratt following him with 22 points.
Manning, who was part of Great Britain’s historic win in 2018 World Championships in Hamburg besides England’s bronze medal winning side at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, also stressed that there’s a lot of pressure that a player has a deal with, but he was proud of how his team were able to handle it together.
“Everyone who play against us will produce their best shot, some extra energy, fire in their belly. That’s exactly what Iran did, pushed us hard from the start and I am proud how we handled that pressure. But there’s always pressure actually; pressure to be the defending champions, pressure to represent your country, pressure on yourself and your team,” said Manning looking ahead to Great Britain’s strong campaign at Dubai 2022 Worlds.
“But one thing is special of this team is how we come together to use that pressure as energy of the team and to fight for each other.
“We are focusing on one game at a time. I won’t say, we didn’t come here to retain the crown. Of course, we want to retain it. But you can’t get heady yourself; there’s always an upset in the World Championships. So, there can’t be any complacency, work as hard as we can and if we do all the right things, the result will come our way,” said the 33-year-old from Peterborough.
Busy League Season
With most of the Great Britain players playing abroad in leagues, Manning said the team could hardly prepare together before the Worlds.
“We all have very tough league season playing abroad. Nearly most of my team-mates play in the European League outside Great Britain. I, myself, play in Spain as well; my league finished in the first weekend of May. So, we are here less than a month later having to prepare, being selected and play for the national team at the World Championships.
“We can play as hard as we can. Rest part, especially for European players we have qualifiers for Paris 2024 so every team will try hard to finish on top,” he said eyeing a spot at the upcoming European Championships.
Tough opening game
The defending champions took time to settle down in their opening game against Iran but once they did, they continued with the momentum in the game.
“It was a tough opening game for us. They (Iran) are a very good team; a highly ranked team and they never give up on any play. I am really proud of our boys and how we come out. We came out with aggression, and played really hard. Besides, we set ourselves a goal of playing at our tempo. We played really quick; we played Great Britain basketball today and I am really proud of everything.”
Great Britain plays Iraq on Monday in their second Group D game.
Holland men, Great women win; UAE suffer second defeat
Elsewhere on Day 3 of the championships, there were compelling encounters with the Netherlands beating South Korea 57-51, thanks to Mendel Op Den Orth’s 28 points in men’s Group C. For Korea, Dong Hyeon Gim put the team ahead on several occasions, especially in the first quarter with 17 points.
In Group A, the home team United Arab Emirates suffered another defeat, this time at the hands of Brazil 83-36 with Cristiano Clemente (22 points) as the top scorer. For UAE, it was Ibrahim Alhammadi who put the maximum of 8 points.
In women’s events, China overcame a late fightback from Spain to win 66-49 in Group B. Suling Ling played a key role in China’s win scoring 22 points.
Meanwhile, Great Britain, last edition’s runners-up, continued their good run at the championships with a 67-35 win over Brazil in a women’s Group B game.
Text Credit: Priyanka Sharma / DCD
Pictures Credit: Mark Madrid / Yahya Essa / DCD