“It is a dream come true"
Great Britain’s men’s team stunned the USA for a historic victory to wrap up an action-packed 2018 Wheelchair Basketball World Championships on Sunday (26 August) in Hamburg, Germany.
The British were dominant from the start, never relinquishing a lead to the reigning Paralympic and Championship favourite USA, going on to win 79-62.
It marked Great Britain’s first official World Championship gold; they won the first unofficial Worlds in 1973.
“We’ve been waiting a long time for this,” British coach Haj Bhania said.
“It is a dream come true. We know that the USA has a fantastic team and are always hard to overcome, but our boys believed in themselves. We are World Champions for the first time ever and will certainly celebrate this.”
Sunday’s showdown was the third time the USA and Great Britain battled for the world title. The US came out on top in the previous ones, in 1994 and 2002.
Great Britain held a slender five-point lead going into the break. In the second half, the momentum stuck with Great Britain, and US coach Ron Lykins searched for a rotation to match the British as they extended their lead in the third quarter. But it was to no avail.
Five Brits scored double-digit points: team captain Philip Pratt (12 points), Harry Brown (17), Greg Warburton (15), Lee Manning (12) and George Bates (17). Jake Williams (15) led the USA.
“GB played an excellent game, both in the offence as well in the defensive. The shooting percentage was very well. They scored more points than us and any other team. They just deserve the win, they earned it. They are the champions," Lykins said.
Australia take bronze
The men’s bronze medal game was a battle of the Asia-Oceania Zone, with Australia winning 68-57 over Iran.
Iran pushed the Australians all the way. But the Rollers went on a 25-1 run at the start of the second half to secure third place.
Despite the loss, Iran still completed a successful tournament with their highest ever place at a World Championships.
“This game was a great reward for the work that’s behind us. We were disappointed in Rio and wanted to get back into the top four in the world, but the bronze medal was also a reward for the effort we put into the preparation,” Australian coach Craig Friday said.
“Australia played well, it’s a great team that won the previous tournament. We had a great play for the half of the game, but I think we lost it by the Australian counterattacks. Unfortunately, we then lost control of the game and the whole match,” Iranian coach Mohammadreza Dastyar said.
Complete results from Hamburg 2018 can be found on the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation’s website.