A final quarter fightback saw Great Britain’s Women’s team narrowly lose to hosts Japan 54:48 in their second pool A game of Tokyo 2020.
ParalympicsGB were trailing by 12 points heading into the final 10 minutes, but the GB Women fought to the very end, once again digging deep as they continued their Tokyo 2020 campaign, their first games together in over 18 months.
It was a close first quarter with both Amy Conroy and Laurie Williams sharing GB’s early points between them, scoring six points each in the opening 10 minutes. The scoring of Conroy and Williams and defensive work of the starting five helped GB have the upper hand on the scoreboard in the early stages. But both teams cancelled each other out as the quarter went on with nothing to separate the end of quarter score at 12:12.
Japan’s Rie Oajima scored the game’s only three-pointer within the opening five seconds of the second quarter and this seemed to spark a spell of Japanese points; their lead growing to 10 points towards the halfway mark in the quarter. GB did brilliantly to battle back to within four points at half-time as points from Conroy, Williams, Helen Freeman and Jude Hamer brought the score to 25:21 at half-time.
It was after the restart when Japan began to build a lead of over 10 points, scoring 16 points compared to GB’s eight in the third quarter. With the score 29:41 heading into the final 10 minutes, ParalympicsGB showed great character and belief to close the gap to the hosts.
GB’s top points scorer Helen Freeman, who also topped the assists and rebound charts, led the scoring charge, scoring 10 of her 14 points in the final quarter. The Watford native, competing in her fourth Paralympics, found her range superbly, and at an important time for ParalympicsGB.
Haizelden utilised her speed and shooting ability to catch Japan on the break to add to her and GB’s points tally, while two points from Charlotte Moore from outside the paint closed the gap to four with four-and-a-half minutes to go.
The belief was there and so was the momentum, but, just when the game was heading to a point where the result could have gone either way, Japan responded with two baskets of their own. Still determined and resilient in their efforts, the GB Women fought to the very end.
Maddie Thompson converted a superb fast break from Haizelden, but there was no late twist with Laurie Williams’ successful free throw with 12 seconds to go ending the game’s points scoring with GB losing by six points.
The GB Women still have two more games left in the Preliminary Round with the top-four from the group of five teams advancing through to the quarter-finals. Next-up for ParalympicsGB is Germany at 12:30 (BST) on Friday.