29 August 2021
Scintillating comeback helps men’s wheelchair basketballers top their pool
ParalympicsGB beat Australia 70-69 in a nail-biting final Pool B game to win the ‘Group of Death’ and take momentum into the men’s wheelchair basketball quarter-finals.
An enthralling clash at the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza saw the Brits complete a remarkable comeback and their reward for winning a pool containing reigning Paralympic champions the United States, as well as Australia and Iran – who finished third and fourth behind GB and the USA at the most recent World Championship – is a last-eight meeting against Canada on Wednesday.
The comeback kings
The Australians started aggressively, committing a number of fouls but taking a 27-12 lead by the end of the first quarter and, although Gregg Warburton nailed a fantastic three-pointer to close the gap to nine at one stage of the second quarter, GB still trailed 38-25 at half-time.
But the comeback started after the interval as Gaz Choudhry sunk eight of his game-high 28 points inside the first three minutes of the second half and the Brits went into the final quarter just five points behind their opponents at 55-50.
With less than three minutes to spare, Australia still led 67-62 but again it was player-coach Choudhry – who notched a double-double thanks to his 11 assists, as well as hauling in eight rebounds – that proved to be the difference.
He scored ParalympicsGB’s decisive basket from in the paint with 61 seconds remaining to give his side a 70-69 lead and they clung on for dear life in the last minute, as Shaun Norris’s attempted three-pointer in the dying seconds missed to seal a nerve-jangling win.
This is the position we wanted to be in. I'm proud of the boys, extremely proud of the boys.
Lee Manning, who also claimed a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds, said: “It was an amazing game and really, really fun to be part of.
“Obviously it was a big comeback from us. Going into half-time, I always felt like if we played our basketball, played what we could do, I knew that we could come out strong.
“I don’t think we actually even got in front until the final minute of the game.
“We finished top of the group which is amazing and gives ourselves hopefully the easier quarter-final, but we’ll see how that goes.
“This is the position we wanted to be in. I’m proud of the boys, extremely proud of the boys. I’m glad we got it done and we’ll stick together and it’s just one more challenge, one more game.”
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