It was at the Amaechi Centre back in 2005 that we all gathered for the first ever competition. Paralympic silver medalists Australia, Nederlands, Sweden and Great Britain would contest the Men ’s competition while France, Nederlands, Sweden and GB Women would fight it out for gold in the Women’s competition.
In the end France would defeat Great Britain in the final to lift the gold for the women while the Men’s Championship Final would deliver one of the most outstanding conclusions to any sporting event.
With 3 seconds left on the clock GB trailed Australia by three points and all seemed lost but Terry Bywater had possession of the basketball at the half way line. Taking aim he unleashed a stunning sky hook which nestled sweetly in the basket and the scores were tied with no time left in regulation…OVERTIME!
It could not get that tense in overtime could it…you bet!
The scores were once again tied with the clock running down. Ade Adepitan had the ball on the right baseline and attempted a shot…it misses…but there is a whistle. GB will go to the line for 2 shots. If he misses both we go to a second period of overtime if he makes even 1 GB Men would win the gold.
He takes the first and misses. He gathers himself and takes the second…it is GOOD! Great Britain Men win gold in the first ever Paralympic World Cup.
So here we are in 2008 and the venue is now the Manchester Regional Arena. Ade Adepitan in here but he has long since retired from the game. He is now working for BBC television as their colour commentator on their Wheelchair Basketball coverage.
The teams are here and ready, for the Women it would be China, Nederlands, Brasil and Great Britain and for the men it would be hosts Great Britain plus Germany, Sweden and the mighty USA. And what a fantastic tournament we would have, the semi finals in the Women’s competition would see China take on Great Britain and the Nederlands take on Brasil.
Neither game was particularly close and the teams going through to the gold medal game would be Nederlands and China. GB would have to face Brasil in the Bronze medal game. In the end Great Britain would take bronze by a scoreline of 57 – 34.
The main event, the gold medal game, in the Women’s competition would see a real tussle as Nederlands got out to a quick start only for China to fight their way back. In the end the women of the Nederlands would be too strong for the Chinese and would win the gold 54-41. The Chinese had fought well all week but had come up against a stronger more organised team.
For the Netherlands Elsbeth Van Oostrum (Pictured below) was awesome in the final and would go 10 for 17 in her 24 points and would also pull down 12 rebounds.
In the Men’s competition it would be a wholly different affair.
The semi-finals paired Great Britain with Sweden while the USA would face Germany.
The result of both of these games were never in doubt at the end but the process was somewhat different. GB controlled their semi final right from the start and were never troubled by the Swiss as the visitors went down 64 – 49.
In the other semi final the Germans would come up against the Americans. The USA had kinda coasted through the competition doing just enough to win although that strategy failed miserably in the first of the pool games when they went down to GB.
At the end of the first quarter in this second semi, the Americans led by 2, 17 to 15 and it really was that close. They had started with Paye, Lesperance, Counts, Lade and Chambers. Their big guns Scott and Mazzi started on the bench. The Germans began with their top 5 of Lehmann, Bienek, Fischer, Christink and Kholer-Lenz.
In the second quarter the Germans went to work on the Americans who did not have an answer. The Germans would give up only 4 points in the quarter while scoring 12 themselves.
At the half they led 21 – 27. Scott had not yet made an appearance and although Mazzi had played 4 minutes he had yet to score. Andre Bienek led all scorers with11 points and 6 rebounds, Kholer-Lenz had 6 points and 8 boards.
The third quarter belonged to the USA as they took control, turning up the defence and getting everything they wanted on offence. Serio, Scott, Chambers and Paye would all make the Germans pay and at the end of the 3rd the USA led 40-35. In the 4th it was more of the same as the USA made sure of their place in the final.
Scott would nail 2 monster threes in his game total of 12 points, but it was his hustle which threw the Germans off their game. He has blistering pace and was pretty much unstoppable.
Mike Paye would go 8 for 15 for his game high 19 points adding 4 rebounds and 3 assists. The final score was 60 points to the Americans and 47 to the Germans. The star player for the Germans was Bienek who was one rebound away from a double double but in the second half he had no answer to the USA defence as they allowed him only 3 points.
And so to the final games in the Men’s competition. The bronze medal game would see a comfortable victory for Germany over Sweden by a scoreline of 73 to 48. Serious foul trouble for Swedish stars Akerberg and Wallin would make this a one-sided affair and only Gustavsson would get the job done for the Swedes to finish with a game high 24 points. Germany would secure the bronze medal.
And so to the Gold medal game which would see the hosts GB take on the swaggering Americans. A full house was on hand to see this and until the final shot of the game they were not disappointed. This was a stunning game of basketball and it is unfortunate that someone had to lose.
At the end of the first GB led 14-11 and were controlling the game. Simon Munn of Great Britain had 6 points but was just warming up. In the second he would go to work and try as they might the Americans could not stop him. He would take his score to 18 points and he was truly awesome. GB guards got him the ball on his favourite spots and he made the USA pay time after time after time. It was a joy to see.
At the half it was GB 33 USA 27. In the third the Americans would begin to get their game going and would outscore the Brits 16 to 10 to tie the game at the end of the quarter.
The final quarter would be a nail biter as the lead would change numerous times, Chambers, Paye and Lade would do the job for head coach Wilson while Munn and Bywater would lead for GB.
With seconds left the game was tied at 58. The Americans would come down and score to take it to 60- 58 with around 6 seconds left to play. GB attempted to call a time out but had none left. Fortunately for Coach Treseder the Americans had one left and decided to use it.
We are back in play 6 seconds to go and Pollock, who had nailed a monster three earlier in the quarter advanced the ball but did not take the three passing instead to Terry Bywater who put it up and…missed. The game was over and the USA had won the Gold. The massive GB following had finally been silenced. The leading scorer was Simon Munn who went for 28 and added 18 rebounds. Jon Pollock added 10 points and 15 assists while Bywater added 16. The top scorer for the US was big man Joseph Chambers with15 and 8 rebounds.
This was a sensational game to bring to an end a sensational tournament. There had been 9 lead changes and we had been tied a total of 10 times.
Believe me…It really was that good.
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