GB Men took to the floor to finish off their Paralympic campaign in Rio, knowing a win against Turkey would secure a bronze medal finish.
Turkey were the quickest off the mark, establishing their presence inside and out of the paint on the back of 10 points from Ozgur Gurbulak. Gaz Choudhry briefly gave GB an early lead at 6-4, but it was Turkey who led at the end of the first quarter 22-16. A back and forth second stanza was capped with a stunning four point play from Choudhry, beating the buzzer to close GB’s deficit to only 1 point: although Turkey led 30-29 at the break, it was undoubtedly GB who were they happy having only shot 40% from the field.
GB’s offensive struggles continued in the third period, missing many makeable shots, allowing Turkey to re-establish a daunting lead: midway through the stanza Turkey led 44-35. A couple of scores from Ian Sagar was enough to halt Turkey’s momentum, and breath life into GB’s efforts. But, a third Ozgur Gurbulak triple saw Turkey up 6 at the end of the quarter (49-43). GB flew out of the traps to start the forth period, racing out with an 11-2 run: scores from Terry Bywater and Abdi Jama forced Turkey to call a timeout with just 6 minutes to play. As Turkey went cold down the stretch, GB upped the intensity on both ends of the floor: seemingly unable to miss – a total reversal of the game’s opening! A second Bywater triple moved GB ahead 63-56, yet the drama was far from over. A late Turkish flurry concluded in a second-chance basket that put Turkey up 2 points with under a minute to play. A clutch Bywater basket levelled the score, with just 14 seconds to play and force the game into overtime at 65-65.
Both sides found their offensive flow in overtime, basket followed basket to open the extra period. Big score after big score, every passion crucial: a Bywater triple gave GB their first advantage in overtime (76-75) with only 1 minute to play. That proved crucial as GB held their nerve and hold on to the lead to take the tie, and the bronze medal (82-76). What an advert for wheelchair basketball.
Ian Sagar (20), Abdi Jama (13), Phill Pratt (11) and Terry Bywater (25) all scored in double-digits.
Image: British Wheelchair Basketball