With the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games inching closer, the top wheelchair basketball teams have been staying loose at friendly tournaments.
Here is a rundown of the competitions that took place in July and early August:
US men go undefeated
The USA men's team have shown they will be a tough outfit in Rio after finishing undefeated in the Continental Clash held 2-5 July in Leicester, Great Britain. They beat defending London 2012 champion Canada, reigning world champion Australia, the Netherlands, Japan and host nation Great Britain.
The US began in blistering fashion with a 77-30 victory over Canada and 77-45 win over Japan. They were however slowed by Australia but pulled the 78-62 win, and over Great Britain, 58-49. In their last game, the USA were given a scare but held on against the Netherlands to win by two points.
Overall Australia will also be pleased with their performance despite early jitters against Japan and the Netherlands to finish with only one loss. Japan, whose best finish at a Paralympic Games is seventh (in Beijing 2008), will gain confidence with upset wins against the Dutch and three-time Paralympic and defending champions, Canada.
Individual honours went to Abdi Jama (Great Britain), Jake Williams (USA), Shaun Norris (Australia), Tristan Knowles (Australia) and Hiro Kozai (Japan), who were named in the tournament’s All Star 5 team.
Full details of the tournament and individual match reports can be found on the British Wheelchair Basketball's website.
Germany, US women show strengths
After a disappointing fourth-place finish in London 2012, the US women can find confidence in their 5-1 finish at the 2016 US Women’s International Friendly, held 23-25 July in at the US Olympic Training Centre in Lake Placid.
The US avenged an early loss to defending Paralympic gold medallists Germany, winning 65-43, and then 69-32 over Great Britain on the final day.
The Germans started strong in their first game against the US, shooting 48 per cent from the floor, compared to USA’s 35 per cent. However, in their rematch, the stats were reversed, with the USA’s Desi Miller and Becca Murray each scoring more than 20 points for USA. The two sides dominated the four-nation tournament, with Great Britain winning three from six, while Canada was unable to register a victory.
A full review of the tournament including match reports can be found on the US National Wheelchair Basketball Association’s website.
Dutch women overcome German rivals
The US and German women’s teams met again in late July, this time on Germany’s courts at the World Super Cup in Frankfurt.
The USA took the upperhand overall in the women’s tournament, but like a month earlier at Lake Placid, dropped a game to the Germans. Opening with a 68-64 win over Germany, the US lost 64-62 in their second meeting in the tournament.
It was a tough outing for the three-time Paralympic title holders playing in front of their home crowd, with European rivals the Netherlands getting the better of them in both their matches, especially in the final game with a 58-44 loss.
On the men’s side, Germany dominated over visitors Turkey and the Netherlands, winning every match. Turkey and the Netherlands went 1-1 in their two encounters.
Full scores and results available on Team Germany's website.
A European finals rematch
The 2016 Continental Clash for women’s wheelchair basketball featured five teams heading to Rio, and was held 1-4 August at the University of Worcester Arena in Great Britain – the same site of the 2015 European Championships.
In a re-match of those Championships finals, Germany took on the Netherlands for gold; this time, however, it was the European silver medallists who emerged triumphant – the Dutch taking gold with a 58-54 win.
The Netherlands entered halftime with a 31-21 advantage and held on to the four-point victory.
Complete results from the 2016 Continental Clash can be found on British Wheelchair Basketball’s website.