Germans relish revenge over British

Germany’s men’s team hope to topple their rivals for gold at the IWBF Wheelchair Basketball European Championships. 21 Jun 2013
Sebastian Wolk

Germany's Sebastian Wolk shoots the ball against Great Britain during their London 2012 matchup.

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By Nate Williams | For the IPC

There is no bigger European rivalry in wheelchair basketball than Germany-Great Britain and it is the latter who have always blocked the German’s progress in major tournaments.

Germany’s men’s wheelchair basketball team will aim to gain revenge over rivals Great Britain on home soil when they match up in Frankfurt for the IWBF Wheelchair Basketball European Championships, which begin on 28 June.

There is no bigger European rivalry in wheelchair basketball than Germany-Great Britain and it is the latter who have always blocked the German’s progress in major tournaments.

Germany have spent years of hard work rebuilding their team after a disappointing quarter-final defeat to their British rivals at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics.

Last time out

In 2011, their efforts were rewarded, as they reached the European final in Nazareth, Israel. However, the Germans left with a silver medal as they were frustrated once again by Great Britain in a devastating 76-65 defeat.

The Germans are relishing the chance of setting the record straight and upsetting the defending champions in front of their home crowd in Frankfurt.

Germany’s biggest weapon comes in forward Dirk Passiwan, who was the leading scorer at the 2011 European Championships.

“Our team has a strong mix but it is really hard in the Europeans,” Passiwan said.

“There are so many teams who can beat each other and it depends on what draw you get.

“When you have a good day you can beat anyone but when you have a bad day you can lose by any margin.”

Germany have had the ideal preparation going into the Europeans by playing the defending champions Great Britain three times in a warm-up tournament in Worcester – home of the 2015 European Championships.

Passiwan believes Germany has learned a lot from their 2011 European final loss to the British and will benefit from the warm-up games if the two sides meet in the gold-medal game again.

“It was a really good Europeans in 2011 and it was one of the best results we have ever had as a team; we hope that we can finish good this year,” he said.

“It will be a tough game against GB because we are maybe the two teams that will fight for the title this year. We love to play at home and I think we will get a good crowd and we hope to use the warm-up games to our advantage.”

Time for tip-off

Germany already have an ideal start to the Europeans when they tip-off the tournament against Great Britain at 20:15 local time on the 28th.

“It would be great if we had the first and the last game with GB,” said Germany’s head coach Nicolai Zeltinger.

“We have a great rivalry with Great Britain. The intensity is great, the games are great and we have had amazing games in the past, and I am sure we will again in the future. It will be exciting to start the European Championships against them.”

Zeltinger has a good relationship with Great Britain’s new head coach Haj Bhania and believes the game has a bright future in Europe.

“It was three years ago when we started to bring in younger guys and they have took over some responsibility,” he said.

“They are performing well and they are growing so I am really happy with the setup we have looking to the road ahead towards Rio.

“Haj is doing a great job with the GB team. I really respect what he is doing and it was very tough for him to select the team but he is also bringing in younger guys and they are doing well.”

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