Monday’s (14 July) final of the IWBF men’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championships in Inchon, Korea, will be between defending champions Australia and London 2012 bronze medallists USA after both won their respective semi-finals on Sunday.
The Australian Rollers were the first to qualify for the final, but only after a stunning comeback against European silver medallists Turkey.
Inspired by Ismail Ar, Cem Gezinci and Ozgur Gurbulak, Turkey raced into a shock 42:22 half-time lead.
However, Australia showed true grit and determination in the third quarter to claw the score back to 47:39. Justin Eveson and Shaun Norris led the comeback with nine and six points respectively, to set up a thrilling final quarter.
The final quarter was all Australia with the Rollers scoring 24 points to Turkey’s 11. Norris finished with 21 points, and Eveson 20, to secure a famous 58:63 win for the London 2012 silver medallists.
The second semi-final between USA and Spain was a see-saw affair for the first two quarters. USA took a 14:10 first quarter lead, and at one point during the second quarter built up a 12 point lead with Michael Paye leading the way.
However, this kicked the Spanish into action, and the tournament’s surprise packages led by Alejandro Zarzuela went on a great scoring run to trail by just one point 24:23 at half-time.
The third quarter saw both teams trade blows and tie 13:13 to set up a grandstand finish in the final quarter which, unfortunately, did not materialise.
Helped by a vocal crowd, the USA excelled in the final quarter against a tiring Spanish team. Paye and Brian Bell, with 14 and 10 points respectively, top scored as the U.S ran out eventual 56:49 winners. For Spain Zarzuela did not deserve to be on the losing side after a heroic performance that saw him score 16 points.
USA are likely to start Monday’s final as slight favourites after they defeated Australia in the group stages 67:57. However, Australia will hope to recapture the form that saw them beat USA 72:63 at the semi-finals of London 2012 when the two meet at 13:30 local time on Monday in a game that will be livestreamed at the competition website.
Before the final, starting at 11:15 local time, Turkey will meet Spain to decide third place.
Prior to the semi-finals, Italy secured fifth place in the final rankings with a 63:57 victory over hosts Korea.
After the first quarter Korea led 15:13, but an inspired Italy bounced back to win the next three quarters and the match. Matteo Cavagnini starred for Italy scoring 16 points, whilst teammate Ahmed Raourahi helped himself to 10 points to secure fifth place.
In the playoff for seventh place, Great Britain defeated Iran 77-65. Terrence Bywater had an outstanding match finishing with 25 points and was helped by Ian Sagar with 20 points. Iran’s top scorer was Vahid Gholamazad with 18 points.
Turkey 58:63 Australia
USA 56:49 Spain
Italy 63:57 Korea
Great Britain 77:65 Iran
For more information on the tournament, or to check out the final standings from the second group phase, visit the official website of the 2014 World Wheelchair Basketball Championships.