It proved to be a tough start for the GB Men in their opening game of the World Wheelchair Basketball Championships, as they ground out their first win of the tournament against Argentina, 60-51, at the Samsan Sports Complex, this morning (Saturday 5th July) in Incheon, South Korea.
Nerves were a factor for both teams in the first quarter as there were a number of turnover from both sides and GB struggled to find their rhythm. It was the experienced heads of both Simon Munn and captain, Abdi Jama, who steadied the team and pushed them ahead to a 12 – 6 lead.
The second quarter saw the momentum swing towards Argentina and led by their prolific scorer Berdun, they increased the pressure on GB keeping the scores close, as GB tok just a two point lead into the half time break. 22 – 20.
GB came out with greater intensity at the beginning of the third, Kyle Marsh making a huge three pointer with their first play, but scores from Argentina’s Gomez and Berdun kept Argentina still within touching distance. Towards the end of the third, GB edged away again, this time Ian Sagar and Gaz Choudhry making their presence felt, and allowed GB to take a five point lead into the final quarter.
However, Argentina were not going to go down without a fight and put everything they had into the final quarter, a six point unanswered run gave them their first and only lead of the game, 43-44. GB’s Head Coach Bhania then brought Simon Munn back into the game and alongside Terry Bywater, they scored a combined twelve points and pushed the score back out to a nine points deficit and finally saw of the Argentinian side.
Final Score 60 – 51.
GB Men’s player, Terry Bywater said, “It was always going to be tough opening game, they have a few players that can shoot and they are pretty decent team to be honest. It’s the first game of the World Championships so we always knew it was going to be tough. Every game is going to be tough. It doesn’t matter if you win ugly or you win beautiful as long as we win, if we are going to go all the way.
“I think there was a little bit of nerves in there, we’ve got four or five guys at their first Championships and it’s to be expected with it being the first game of the World Championships but every single one of us played, we all got minutes and all contributed. That’s the good thing about us we are not just five, six or seven players we are twelve players and everyone got on the floor and everyone contributed which is great to see.
“We are hoping tomorrow there will be a crowd for the match as it’s against the host nation and obviously they will be up for it. We are European Champions so everyone wants to beat us, but we are taking it game by game and see what happens.”
GB’s captain, Abdi Jama said, “It was always going to be tough especially with it being such an early morning game to start with, but in the end we got there and that was the main point. We got the ‘W’ and we go onwards from here and onto the next game!”
GB’s Head Coach, Haj Bhania said, “We were a little bit rusty as we have only had limited competition in the run up to the Championship against Japan and I think it showed. We may have been a little bit complacent as well, we just need to be smarter in what we do. You can’t take away anything from Argentina though and credit to them they came out to play and gave us a good game.
“We need to go into tomorrow’s game with a lot more intensity, make sure we are ready to play at all times and be more demanding of each other. We didn’t get off to a good start today but we are looking to get off to a good start every day from now on, play with great intensity and the way we know we can.”