The GB Men’s team dominated the 2019 European Championships delivering a spotless undefeated record and the tournament title this weekend.
Europe, considered one of the strongest zones for wheelchair basketball, looked to deliver a punishing European Championships tournament for the GB Men’s team as they faced France in the Quarter Final, Turkey in the Semis and Spain in the Final.
The GB Men have history with these three teams, with each of the opposing nations stopping to GB’s title bids at critical tournaments in the last decade. Turkey notably stopped GB claiming its fourth consecutive European Title in a dramatically close final in 2017 (69-76); Spain quashed GB’s gold medal chances at Rio 2016 after they won the place in the final by just 6pts (63-69) and France delivered a heart-breaking defeat to GB in the Quarter Finals of the Worlds in 2010.
However, Haj Bhania’s GB Squad were never in doubt of their status as current World Champions and delivered a blistering pool stage with five successive strong wins against Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Poland and Germany.
It was the crossover games where the depth of the GB squad shone through with the experience and power of the team’s players being clearly laid down on court. The team’s single-minded ambition to reclaim their European title very clear for all to see.
The team swiftly disposed of the French during the quarter final dominating the game from the outset hitting half-time with an impressive 30pt lead. GB’s ability to draw points from across its squad saw a mix of newer and more experienced members add to the tally with Warburton, Bates, Bywater and Sagar contributing to the scoreboard.
GB met current European Champions Turkey in the Semi-Final. The closest game of the championships for GB who trailed for the first two quarters with a half time score 45-43. A relentless Terry Bywater left the Turkish team reeling after a scorching attack in the second half and efficiently closing-down the game 94-81, contributing an individual 34pts.
Reminiscent of the World Championships Final the GB v Spain game starting five opened with GB’s Manning, Warburton, Brown, Brown and Pratt line-up. The full squad contributed to the final score with Coach Haj Bhania running the full bench during the title game.
The win marked GB’s Seventh European Championship title win, the greatest points difference title win in the tournament’s history, and GB take the top of the tournament’s medal ranking table with a total of 7 golds, 5 silvers and 4 bronze medals.
Speaking after the game, GB Captain Phil Pratt commented:
“We’re really proud to win the European Championships – it has been a long and tough summer with the squad and I am so proud of this team.
“Going into Tokyo we are now one of the favourites which will be a new experience for us. We have always been the ones chasing the Spanish or chasing the Americans.”
GB’s Harry Brown also added:
“It’s a great feeling to get the European Championships trophy back and become Champions again. To have the whole team put a performance in was just amazing. The whole staff and team stuck together throughout the tournament and it’s been the best feeling ever.
“Looking forward to Tokyo – this is a great steppingstone – we’re World Champions, we’re European Champions, we’ve just got one more step now.”
|31 August||54-76||ITA v GBR|
|1 September||90-35||GBR v SUI|
|2 September||39-95||AUT v GBR|
|3 September||83-61||GBR v POL|
|4 September||75-58||GBR v GER|
|6 September||93-51||GBR v FRA (QF)|
|7 September||81-94||TUR v GBR (SF)|
|8 September||77-52||GBR v ESP (F)|