Turkey dethrone GB, crowned Wheelchair Basketball champions of Europe

Turkey ended GB Men’s dominance at the European Championship with a dramatic victory in the gold medal game, to cap an exceptional week of wheelchair basketball in Tenerife – denying GB a staggering fourth consecutive European Championship title.

GB wasted no time in asserting their presence at the tournament, opening Group B with a succession of impressive victories: recording wins over Sweden (79-56), Israel (86-43), Lithuania (120-53) and Germany (69-38). The only blemish of the campaign came in GB’s final group game, with defeat at the hands of Championship rivals, Turkey (60-71). Consequently, the team finished 2nd in Group B (4-1) to set up a quarter-finals clash against Poland. Lee Manning’s 31 points and Terry Bywater’s 24 points against Lithuania headlined a plethora of standout individual performances during the group stage.

The knockout stages saw GB up their output, seeing off Poland (96-69) before easing past the Dutch (72-55) in the semi-finals to set up a finale showdown against Turkey. Gaz Choudhry (27p-9r-7a) was instrumental in the quarter-finals victory, alongside Terry Bywater (24p) and Lee Manning (19p). The same trio combined for 45 points in the semi-finals.

With gold on the line and a chance at redemption against Turkey, the stakes were high heading into the final. It was Turkey, however, who started the stronger, racing out to an 8-point first quarter lead (10-18) before building an imposing 24-36 advantage by half-time. A much improved showing after the break brought GB within single-digits heading into the final stanza (49-58): Phillip Pratt instrumental in forcing a momentum change. GB seized their opportunity, Terry Bywater finding his rhythm down the stretch, closing the deficit to only 3 points with just less than 2 minutes remaining in the game. This proved to be as close as GB would get, Turkey able to keep their composure and hold off the GB onslaught – led by the clutch play of Özgür Gürbulak (25p-12a). The final score (69-76), Turkey crowned champions of Europe, ending GB’s reign of dominance. A heartbreaking end to a solid campaign for GB, their finals comeback falling agonisingly short. Terry Bywater (20p), Abdi Jama (15p), Phillip Pratt (11p) and Gaz Choudhry (11p) led GB in scoring.

Image: IWBF