The next two games would determine if Great Britain would take any part in the quarter finals of the men’s basketball at this year’s Paralympic games. Canada ware now virtually assured a place after their stunning victory over the Germans, who themselves should certainly still qualify despite the set-back.
Only Poland really stood in the way of Great Britain being in the second stage of the completion as the seeming whipping boys of the tournament Japan would not surely do the unbelievable and get points off a resurgent British Bulldogs team.
Poland had lost their third game and whilst Great Britain had run Germany close and were on the end of hugely disappointing result against Canada, Poland, like Columbia were not in the same league.
The real aim of the match was to try and improve Great Britain’s points difference, inside the first five minutes of the game, Great Britain had already put ten points on the board to the Poles’ two. With the indomitable Bywater, Sagar and Hall in fine throwing form this looked as though Great Britain had ides of going for the much dreamed 100 point mark. Although the Poles had been stung very early in the game, the spirit they show is never in doubt and whilst they ended the first quarter down, they were un-bloodied and unbowed.
The second quarter saw the game slow down significantly as for all intent purposes it looked as though the Great Britain side were content with their lead. A dangerous thing to do in any sport, but in wheelchair basketball, a game that’s even quicker than its equivalent in the Olympics, it’s an act of sporting unnaturalness. Whatever the game plan it gave the Polish side impetus to stretch their game and bring back the deficit. Balcerowski was in very good form and was inspiring to watch. The Polish fightback scared the British side but it has to be said the ability of Terry Bywater, John Hall and Dan Highcock to get points from almost anywhere and the speed down the court of Orogbemi was the difference by half time as Great Britain led Poland by 45 points to 24. The team came off at half time to rapturous applause and despite a scare in the first five minutes of the second quarter; the team ethic looked very healthy indeed.
The second half followed on in a similar fashion as the first, each side trying to make the most of every opportunity but with the British free scoring and dominating the play to lead by an impressive margin of 27 points, surely an insurmountable lead that even British sporting misfortune could not undo.
The minutes ticked down on an entertaining match, Great Britain’s form had carried on from the Columbia match and now the team looked likely to be joining Canada and Germany from the group in the quarter finals. In the end it was comprehensive a victory, however it shouldn’t disguise the ability of the British team to fall asleep for a while and allow the opposition time to re-group and get back into the game. In some games this is easily turned around but against better class of opposition they will punish the Bulldogs and that would be a crying shame for a set of talented and inspirational sportsmen.
Great Britain: Choudhry, Highcock, Sealy, Bywater, Munn, Pollock, Jama, Byrne, Sagar, Finbow, Hall, Orogbemi.
Coach: Murray Treseder.
Poland: Gorzkzowicz, Flipski, Macek, Wisnek, Pietrzyk, Wrobel, Bandura, Luszynski, Balcerowski, Mosler, Darnikowski, Cyrul.
Coach: Piotr Marues.
Final Score: Great Britain 87 – 58 Poland
Man of the Match: Highcock (Great Britain)
South Africa 32-61 Italy
Columbia 49-63 Japan
Germany 66- 73 Canada
Ian D. Hall