Great Britain’s Men produced a sensational comeback to beat Australia 70:69 to top Pool B having been 20 points down in the second quarter.
Player-coach Gaz Choudhry top-scored with 28 points, including 22 second-half points, as ParalympicsGB fought back in the final two quarters for GB claim a tense, but thrilling, one-point victory to set-up Wednesday’s quarter-final meeting with Canada.
It was another heart-pumping game for anyone watching from home, but, on the court, there was composure, determination and fight.
Australia had built a seven-point lead with four minutes gone in the opening quarter, despite early GB points from Choudhry and Lee Manning, who both ended the game with double-doubles. Four points from outside the paint from Abdi Jama, and two points for Gregg Warburton closed the gap to two just under halfway through the opening quarter.
But a run of 14 points for Australia against GB’s one saw Australia take the first quarter 27:12.
There was a change of line-up for GB as the second quarter began but Australia continued their momentum from the end to the opening quarter and grew their lead to 20 points with five minutes left of the half.
GB responded well, working hard to limit Australia’s scoring opportunities and to re-claim possession from defence with three steals and four turnovers in the quarter. Seven points from Gregg Warburton, including a three-pointer, and two points from Choudhry inside the final minute saw GB finish the half strongly and cut Australia’s lead to 13 with the final two quarters still to come.
As the second-half began, ParalympicsGB reverted back to their starting five line-up of Choudhry, Warburton, Jama, Manning and Harry Brown. GB started the second-half with intensity, four points from inside the paint for Manning getting GB off to a quick start.
Nine points from Choudhry, six points from Manning and two points from Warburton saw GB draw the score level with just over three minutes to go in the third quarter as GB defended strongly.
Despite a successful free-throw from Choudhry and four more points for Warburton, it was a five-point game heading into the final quarter with Australia leading 50:55 as Manning’s field-goal attempt bounced off the rim on the buzzer.
It was a lead that was back to one when Warburton added four points from outside the paint from Choudhry’s assists. As GB responded, so did Australia, extending their lead to seven points with three minutes, 42 seconds left on the clock.
The decisive spell in the game then followed for GB. After two points each from Choudhry and Warburton reduced Australia’s lead to three, Australia responded with a basket of their own. But, within seconds, their lead was two, a three-pointer from Choudhry making the score 67:65.
A steal from Choudhry started a play that saw Warburton draw a foul on the fast break and his one from the line made it a one-point game with two minutes to go, taking his tally for the game to 22 points.
The game was then turned on its head, GB leading for the first time, when Manning scored from inside the paint with 84 seconds left, assisted by Brown. Australia’s lead was soon restored, Jannick Blair scoring from close-range.
What proved to be the game’s decisive points came from Choudhry, 61 seconds to go, created his own shooting opportunity, and delivered to send GB back into a one-point lead.
GB defended defiantly, forcing Australia into a shot clock violation in the final minute, as GB held out superbly to complete a sensational comeback and seal a 70:69 win.