A defiant GB men’s team bring the European Championship silver medal home
Billed as the ultimate grudge match – the long standing rivalry between the GB and Turkey men’s teams set the scene for a dramatic European Championships 2017 gold medal game.
The 2017 tournament would mark the third time these two teams had met at a European final – with GB claiming the gold medal in 2013 and 2015. The GB men had made it clear that their ambition was to bring home their fourth consecutive gold; the Turkish squad clear in their intent to stop them.
Throughout the 2017 European Championships the GB squad had the edge on their opposition with their agility; the team had a unique combination of experienced senior players coupled with the emerging relatively unknown talent of their younger athletes.
At this tournament GB’s Rio debutantes Lee Manning, Phil Pratt, Gregg Warburton, Harry Brown and Kyle Marsh showed the world that they were no longer the new boys. Manning’s reach at retrieving offensive rebounds and deflecting the opposition will now be synonymous to the GB #14.
The Turkish squad came out fighting in the gold medal game; their offensive attack was immediate and at the close of the first half they had a 12 point lead.
The GB team regrouped at half time, Head Coach Haj Bhania drawing his team back together. With quick decisive passing and on point shooting the GB men closed in on Turkey’s lead, by the end of the third GB trailed by just nine points.
Midway through the fourth the GB men drew within two points of equalising the game. The strength of the GB comeback apparent, winning both the third and fourth quarters 25-22 and 20-18 respectively.
Turkey’s Ozgur Gurbulak sunk two three pointers in the final quarter which ultimately decided the game in their favour. GB just seven points shy of their fourth European Championships gold medal.
The GB men an example of working ‘til the final buzzer and never once giving up, take home the European Championships silver and a confirmed place at the 2018 World Championships in Hamburg.
Their silver will join the GB team’s recent medal haul of women’s European Championships bronze and the U23 Men’s World Championships gold.
Terry Bywater, GB Men’s co-captain reflective of the team’s loss and silver medal win commented after the game:
“We gave it our all; we went into the game confident. We’d won it three times – we wanted a fourth. I think the first twenty minutes we were nervous, we wanted it so bad and it showed.
“The second half we were a completely different team. We showed that we are one of the best teams in Europe. At the end of the day it’s about keeping our heads held high – we made the final.”
Paul Davies, Performance Director added:
“You need to remember that Turkey are one of the best teams in the world. They took bronze at the 2014 World Championships and gave us one heck of a challenge in Rio for our bronze medal. Today was never going to be an easy game – we knew this coming into this tournament, we knew this in our preparations for today’s game.
“The GB v Turkey game is exactly why wheelchair basketball is such an exciting, captivating and passionate sport. The game was decided in the closing minutes – not after the first quarter or after the first half but after nearly an hour and a half of world-class competitive sport.
“Our men have added a European Championships silver to GB’s recent success.
“Our athletes and performance programme is delivering outstanding results. Not once did our GB men stop fighting in their bid to win a fourth consecutive gold – our men’s European Championships silver medal was hard fought and well won.”