GB Men and Women commence successful campaigns at Continental Clash – BWB Communications Volunteer Dylan Cummings reports
The hot streak for GB began when the women’s squad faced Japan at 5:30pm on the Monday evening. The team got off to a blazing start as they outscored the opposition 14-4 in the first quarter, with the majority of GB’s forwards contributing to the lead. In the second quarter, Japan were able to narrow the deficit but GB still kept the lead. GB once again forged ahead in the third quarter through the shooting precision of co-captain Helen Freeman, who scored a total of 18 points, going 47% from the field. The final ten minutes of the game was close in quarter scores between the two teams. Sharp shooting from Amy Conroy and Joy Haizelden ensured that GB remained on top of their game as they secured the 60-44 victory.
GB’s Robyn Love spoke after the game saying: “It was a positive start to the tournament, we have a few areas we can tighten the bolts on for tomorrow. It felt great to get a win in our first international game at our new home venue.”
The success continued for GB on the Men’s side as they faced Poland in the final game of the night. GB’s George Bates spoke before the game saying: “I’m looking forward to it, this is our first game of the summer and the first step towards achieving our goal of winning the World Championships.”
Head Coach Haj Bhania decided to start the game with a young line-up which consisted of; George Bates, Gregg Warburton, Harry Brown, James MacSorley and Phil Pratt. All of the starting line-up won gold at the 2014 U22 European Championships. The players held their own against a strong European nation with Warburton scoring 12 of GB’s 19 first quarter points, hitting 100% from the field. The powerhouses Gaz Choudhry and Lee Manning was subbed in for the second quarter which added height to GB’s advantage as they continued to dominate. James MacSorley contributed heavily as he scored eight of GB’s 14 quarter points in the third. However, they struggled to stop Poland in the fourth period as GB got outscored 29-18 but, the likes of Simon Brown and Terry Bywater came on court to display their experience and leadership to allow GB to maintain a lead as the game ended with a 75-68 win for the home side.
There was plenty of other non-GB action also happening at Continental Clash as Canada played in the morning, their women’s squad battled Japan as the men squared off against the Netherlands. In the women’s game it was a 50/50 lead as Canada showcased their World Championship-winning dominance in the first quarter with Arinn Young and Cindy Oullet contributing to the majority of the lead. However, Japan, led by Mari Amimoto’s 23-point total fought back in the second and third quarters using their pressing ability and speed to slow down Canada’s scoring. The 2017 Americas Cup champions found a way to combat this by the time the fourth quarter rolled around as Oullet and Young once again displayed dominance which meant Canada won 59-52. Meanwhile on the other court the men were unsuccessful as the Netherlands’ lead kept increasing as the game went on with Mustafa Korkmaz as the Dutch’s top scorer with 14 points closely followed by Robin Poggenwisch with 13. Top scorer of the game was the legendary Patrick Anderson with 23 points, despite this it was the Dutch side who came away with the 23-point win, ending 58-35.
Whilst the GB games were going on in the evening there were also games running on the adjacent court Japan fought Spain in the men’s pool. The first quarter was even between the two teams however, the Rio 2016 silver medallists showcased the medal-winning potential as they forged ahead in the second and third periods through the likes of Alejandro Zarzuela and Asier Garcia (16pts) as well as Jordi Ruiz (15pts) however, Japan had a resurgence in the final period as Takuya Furusawa and Reo Fujimoto both added to their 19-point totals. In the end it was the European side who got the 72-63 victory.
The women’s game that ran adjacent to GB was a bout between Canada and the Netherlands, a battle of zonal champions. The current European champions established an early five-point lead over the Americas Cup champions, but the game remained even for the second and third quarters until the Netherlands gave a final blast of energy through the likes of Kramer (15pts), Visser (14pts) and De Rooij (12pts) which was well-combatted by Arinn Young who was top scorer of the game with 25 points. The Netherlands won 65-56.
Stay tuned to British Wheelchair Basketball on all social media platforms for more upcoming coverage of the Continental Clash.