Great Britain suffer heartbreak in quest for bronze
8 months ago
Great Britain missed out on a Paralympic Wheelchair Basketball medal for the first time in 12 years as the USA out-played them for a 61-46 victory in the bronze-medal match tonight (Saturday).
Guard Scott Serio scored 20 points as the US exacted revenge in a replay of the same match in Beijing four years ago, which the British won 85-77. Seven of the 12-man GB squad from 2008 were in action again here but could not repeat their heroics.
Faced with tough defending and unable to convert many of the opportunities that came their way, GB were 29-20 down at half-time, with talisman Terry Bywater held to two points in the first 20 minutes.
They drew level at 29 with a burst of nine unanswered points straight after the break, to the delight of a crowd of 12,627 - twice the attendance for Thursday's semi-finals.
Both teams started nervously but, while it took two and a half minutes before Serio opened the scoring for the US, it was a further two before Ade Oregbemi recovered a loose ball to register the home side's first two points.
GB were allowed little space, made few scoring opportunities and, when they had them, failed to capitalise.
Serio kept up a steady stream of points and others, in particular towering centre Joe Chambers who scored 10 in the first half, were allowed space.
Bywater, GB's leading scorer in the tournament so far with an average of 17 points per game, was kept to two in the first half but scored eight in four minutes as the Bulldogs pulled level with a burst of vigour straight after the break.
Britain again tied affairs up at 33 but then committed five turnovers in the following six possessions, allowing the US to move ahead for good.
Kept out of the key, GB scored on just 38% of their shots and centre Ian Sagar said: “It just felt like our shots weren't sinking and theirs were – we just didn’t play well enough.
“Every other day they’ve been going in but shots just seemed to bounce back out and that just fuelled their momentum.
“I’m devastated,” added the Barnsley player, who contributed seven rebounds.
Coach Murray Treseder said: “We’ve finished fourth and that’s probably where we are at the moment.
“I admired our fight in the third quarter. When we got back to 33-all, we made five errors and that just killed us.”
Centre Simon Munn, a 42-year-old from Aylesbury playing in his sixth Games, said he felt like the entire game was a blur afterwards.
“I’m just really, bitterly disappointed. Our supporters have been absolutely fantastic. I’m deflated, I feel as though we’ve let people down, I’ve let my family down,” he said.
Bywater, who led the defence with 12 rebounds as well as scoring 14 points, felt his side’s early struggles had put them in a position from which they could never recover.
“They’re one of the best teams in the world. They did a hell of a job in defence against us but in the first 20 minutes we just weren’t good enough and it just left us too much to do,” said the guard, who comes from Redcar.
“We gave it absolutely everything but we just couldn’t get that four or six points in front.
“There were 12,000 people out there, it’s a home Olympics, there is pressure on us but we haven’t played like that the whole tournament.”
Bywater set his sights on playing at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, saying: “This is my fourth [Games], I’m only 29. The intensity of the game’s just changing every day.
“But I’m going to give it absolutely everything I’ve got to get there because I’ve missed out on a medal at a home Olympics and I want revenge in four years’ time. I’ll start my training next week for it.
“This has been the best experience of my life. Every morning when we’ve woken up, every one of us has been excited just to roll out and play in front of the family and the crowd.
“Every single person who has seen this sport has said they want to see it on the telly, more in the media. Everybody loves wheelchair basketball.
“London 2012 has been a dream come true but we just didn’t get the icing on the cake.”