Germany’s women’s wheelchair basketball team reclaimed the gold from the Netherlands for an historic 10th title at the 2015 International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) European Wheelchair Basketball Championships in Worcester, Great Britain, on Sunday (6 September).
Host Great Britain were triumphant in the men’s to become European champions for the third consecutive time, defeating Turkey.
The European Championships also saw five men and four women's teams qualify for Rio 2016.
Gold medal game: Germany 72, Netherlands 62
Germany established an early 10-point advantage, led by star players Marina Mohnen and Gesche Schunemann. In contrast to errant shooting from the Netherlands through the first half, German top scorer Schunemann was perfect on nine 2-point attempts (20 points in the first half). The score at halftime reflected this, with a 39-31 lead for Germany, who were looking to take back the gold from the 2013 champions.
Germany’s attacks and shots came mainly from the sides of the 3-point line. Tthere was little the Netherlands could do with the German team proving to be successful in complementary shorter passes and exchanges. Though the Netherlands had been dominant winners through their group and knockout matches, they had to find something different in the second half.
Responding by defending their opponents more tightly, the Netherlands prevented the Germans from shooting with as much accuracy as they had done before the halftime break. Guard Inge Huitzing (who finished with a double-double 32 points, 10 rebounds) was the one complementing this in attack, claiming rebounds, providing assists and scoring aplenty herself.
The Dutch closed within four points with five minutes to go but were unable to prevent Germany from closing out the victory.
Schunemann’s double-double 26 points, 16 rebounds proved the difference, earning her the game’s MVP award. Mohnen finished with 21 points, and Annika Zeyen added 11.
Bronze medal game: Great Britain 69, France 39
Great Britain’s invaluable guard Helen Freeman led the way for the team both on the court and the statistics sheet (10 points, six assists, four rebounds).
Although France tightened up on defence as Great Britain rotated their team, the bronze medals were all but hanging on the leaders’ necks from the resume of play after the half-time break. Through this straightforward conclusion to the game, the overall strength of the Great Britain team was reflected in nine players finishing with five or more points, eight with multiple rebounds and five with multiple assists.
The victory secured a third successive bronze medal at European Championships for Great Britain.
Paralympic qualifiers: Germany, Netherlands, Great Britain, France.
Gold medal game: Great Britain 87, Turkey 66
Both the British and Turkish teams started brightly, showing excellent shooting around the key and matching each other basket-for-basket. In a fast-paced game, Great Britain's superior shooting meant they started to edge ahead, going into the break with a 21-13 lead. A slower second quarter saw the half end with Great Britain still up 34-25.
Great Britain's advantage into the second half reached 19 points with successive three-point plays to stop any Turkish revival. In the final few minutes of the quarter, Turkey matched Great Britain basket-for-basket. But with two more three-point plays from Ghazain Choudhry, the British maintained their commanding lead with the scores 61-42 at the break.
Needing a massive fourth quarter, Turkey started quickly. But Great Britain's offence, led by Terry Bywater, meant the gold medal was within the host’s grasp. Turkey's shooting was of high quality, but outstanding team offensive play by Great Britain gave Turkey little hope of a comeback.
Bronze medal game: Germany 74, Netherlands 56
Despite Germany and the Netherlands ending the first half level-pegging on 30-30, the Germans who gained the lead in the second.
Dirk Passiwan led an impressive offensive play which stifled the Dutch scoring, and the Germans ended the third quarter with a 54-40.
Needing a huge display in the final quarter, the Netherlands found themselves matched basket-for-basket by the Germans. But the Dutch improved their offensive display and cut the German advantage to 10 points.
Still, Germany had the last word, controlling the game and going home with the bronze medal.
Paralympic qualifyers: Great Britain, Turkey, Germany, Netherlands, Spain
Full results of the 2015 IWBF European Championships are available at the event website.