3 September 2021
Choudhry devastated after wheelchair basketball semi-final loss
Gaz Choudhry struggled to put into words the disappointment of a semi-final defeat for ParalympicsGB’s wheelchair basketball team after they lost to hosts Japan.
For the sixth successive Paralympics, the British men’s team has fallen in the final four, beaten 79-68 as Japan were able to overcome a half-time deficit to reach their first final.
For player-coach Choudhry, forced into the role at the last minute after coach Haj Bhania tested positive for Covid, it was tough to come to terms with the defeat.
“Disappointing isn’t a big enough word. We’re absolutely devastated,” he said. “We absolutely believed we could do it today. Japan, all credit to them, they beat us, we didn’t lose that game, we gave everything we had and they absolutely beat us today.
“They made some tactical changes, they pressed us and we knew they would and we had a plan to break the press. It’s not that we didn’t execute but some of our shots didn’t go down. Their press was really good and it changed the game.
“We could have done a better job breaking their press and getting into our offence and we would have been fine. But they kept coming at us in waves, they were really disciplined, they kept rotating and they kept the intensity up for the whole 40 minutes. They were better than us today.”
Gaz Choudhry was part of the bronze medal-winning team in Rio
This wheelchair basketball team have shown their spirit throughout the competition, coming from behind time after time, but on this occasion the roles were reversed.
GB raced into a 23-15 lead after the first quarter, and still led by three at half-time. But in the second half, Japan’s tactical switch, along with some brilliant shooting from Renshi Chokai and Hiroaki Kozai, swung the game.
Choudhry kept battling, finishing as his team’s top scorer with 26 points and 11 assists but it wasn’t enough.
Now attention turns to the bronze medal match against Spain, with the hope of a fifth bronze in the last six Paralympic Games.
And for Choudhry and many of the team, there will be familiar foes lining up on the other side of the court.
He said: “Our preparation hasn’t been ideal, everyone knows that. This team is really special and really resilient and we’re going to need that when we go for the bronze against Spain.
“A lot of us play in Spain in leagues out there. They are a big, powerful team, quite different to the team we have just played. I’m not thinking too much about the tactics. We know them well and I can promise you that we will come out and give it everything we have to win that bronze medal.”
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