The Netherlands took back their crown from Germany, while Turkey spoiled Great Britain’s run for history at the 2017 Tenerife European Wheelchair Basketball Championships..
Their victories on Friday (June 30) sealed their places at the 2018 World Championships in Hamburg, Germany.
The Dutch reclaimed the European title from Germany after a thrilling 56-46 duel, with Mariska Beijer leading the way with 26 points.
It was the 14 consecutive year that the rivals have met in the European Championship finals. The last time the two faced off was at Rio 2016, when Germany defeated the Netherlands’ for the final spot in the gold medal game.
"We know we have the better team; we knew at the European Championships in 2015 and during the Paralympic Games,” said the Netherlands’ Jitske Visser.
Said Dutch coach Gertjan van der Linden: “Qualitatively, we should be better. After Rio 2016, the team was rejuvenated. We play differently and we have really taken a new path. These young girls are playing very well. Defensively, it was very strong, something I had not seen in a long time. At the same time we are not error-free and there is still work to do.”
Both teams were tied at 23:23 entering half-time, and the Dutch went up 11 points in the third. Although the German women rallied in the final quarter, the deficit was too much for them to break down and it was the Netherlands who, after the heartbreak loss in the gold medal match in 2015, were crowned European champions.
New German head coach Martin Otto said: "I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved in this short time. One must be unhappy to recognise that the Dutch women were 10 points better this time. But our team has a future and we look forward to it. The girls have made a great development, so silver is clearly a win for us.”
Great Britain cruised to their sixth consecutive bronze medal, as they comfortably defeated France 68-37. Led by the strong shooting combination of Helen Freeman (27 points) and Amy Conroy (18 points), the British stormed to an early lead which they maintained throughout the game to see the secure their 10th European bronze medal.
Germany, Great Britain, France and Spain also qualified for the 2018 Worlds.
Ozgur Gurbulak came through for Turkey again, hitting two huge 3-pointers to put the game out of reach as his side defeated Great Britain 76-69 for the gold medal.
Turkey came out firing and took an early 10-point lead. Great Britain managed to come back into the game to cut it to two points. Both teams got in early foul trouble, but it proved costlier for Great Britain as Turkey converted from the line to take the advantage into half-time, 36-24. A high scoring third quarter was edged by Great Britain, but Turkey still took a nine-point lead in to the last quarter, 58-49. In an exhilarating final 10 minutes, Great Britain made it a one-point game. But Gurbulak made sure Turkey did not fall again to the British, who had denied Turkey their first ever Paralympic medal in the Rio 2016 bronze medal game.
The German men took home the bronze medal, defeating the Dutch 61-56.
Great Britain, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Poland and Italy also booked their tickets to Hamburg in 2018.
Complete results from the 2017 Tenerife European Wheelchair Basketball Championships can be found on the IWBF-Europe’s website.