GB Men soar to the finals of the IWBF World Championships 2022 with a victory over Iran after a highly competitive rematch.
Written by Omer Hagomer
GBR won the tipoff yet could not convert early on. Hakim Mansouri got 2 points on the scoreboard with a layup for Iran. GBR had good looks, but shots kept rolling out. Mohammad Nezhad pushed the lead of Iran to 4 points after a pick and roll, and Mansouri once again scored a layup in transition, however, he committed an offensive foul in the process.
GBR called for a timeout with seven minutes remaining in the first quarter. Simon Brown granted GBR a boost of confidence with 2 points from the top of the key, and Gregg Warburton did exactly the same to reduce the lead of Iran to two points.
Iran were rattled and called for a timeout. Co-captain Phil Pratt fired for 2 points off the backboard from the 45-degree angle to tie the game. Halfway through the first quarter, GBR 6:6 IRI.
The defence of GBR was overwhelming Iran, but Morteza Abedi secured an offensive rebound and scored a fadeaway. Co-captain Lee Manning responded with 2 points under the basket.
GBR were playing the game, not the occasion, as H. Brown drew a foul skillfully and gave GBR a 2-point lead from the free throw line. Warburton found the space to extend the lead of GBR to 4 points through a screen set by Manning.
The Iranians made a substitution heading into the second quarter, Mohsen Tolouie Tamardash came off the bench and reduced the lead of GBR to 2 points. At the end of the quarter, GBR 12:10 IRI. In the second quarter, Jim Palmer and Ben Fox checked into the game. Mohamadhassan Sayari tied the game yet again with 2 points from long-range.
Total nonstop action at both ends of the floor, both teams were playing to win. Warburton and Pratt were picking up some steam, as Terry Bywater replaced Manning. The speed of transition from defence to offense was remarkable. S. Brown, H. Brown, and Lee Manning subbed back in for GBR. Manning towered over the defence of Iran and scored a couple of points under the basket.
Iran were determined to vanquish the defending champions; they used offensive rebounds to score more points. S. Brown responded with a terrific coast to coast layup. Iran were very physical on defence, and Omid Hadiazhar was accurate from the mid-range. Manning gave GBR a 4-point lead, at half-time, GBR 26:22 IRI.
After a slow start, it was a brilliant display of patience by GBR. Pratt opened the third quarter with a breath-taking 3-pointer. Tamardash answered back with 2 points under pressure. Manning collected defensive rebounds to give GBR the advantage. While Iran were flying in transition, as Hadiazhar used a curl to score 2 points.
Pratt gave GBR a 7-point lead after a forceful layup. Warburton and Manning kept advancing and draining shots in transition. Sayari responded with 2 points from the baseline. Meanwhile, S. Brown added points after a great pick & roll with Pratt.
The Iranians were frustrated, they sent GBR to the free throw line frequently and got penalised with points. Warburton found his tempo and began launching deep 2’s. Iran called for a timeout with 3 minutes to go in the third quarter. Baskets were exchanged but GBR managed to sustain a strong lead heading into the last quarter, GBR 51:34 IRI.
In the fourth quarter, H. Brown proved himself as a shooting threat from the mid-range. Iran could not prevent Manning from getting inside the paint and scooping points. Warburton simply could not be denied. Iran made a few substitutions due to foul trouble, as Manning made 1/2 from the free throw line.
Iran were still utilising the pick & roll to reduce the lead. Sayari launched a long 3-pointer to encourage his teammates. GBR sacrificed some uncharacteristic turnovers, although the Iranians could not benefit from them, they looked flustered on offense. Warburton put the final nail in the coffin with 4 consecutive points from the mid-range, full-time, GBR 64:44 IRI.
GB Men’s co-captain Lee Manning commented:
“I think we started a bit slow; some nerves were to be expected, I mean it is the semi-final – they were there to knock us off the top spot. We are the reigning champions, so it was going to be a bit of nerves in it. I think we showed great composure to stick with that gameplan, ride the energy because they are going to come out with everything that they got, and they did fair play to them.
“We kept going and we knew that if we kept playing our game that eventually the baskets would start going in, somebody would lift the lid on it and come out with a win at the end of it,”
Preparations for USA:
“We’ve got a day off tomorrow. We’ve played the USA a few times now – it is a repeat of the last world championship final as well!
“Whilst we got the better of [USA] in the last couple of games, that does not mean anything. They are going to come out gunning, they have got some great players, great shooters over there, and we just have to bring our own game. I am sure if we stick to that game plan and stick with what Bill [Johnson] and Joey [Johnson] have put forward for us, good things will happen and the result will take care of itself.”
S. Brown (6), K. Marsh, T. Bywater, H. Brown (5), P. Pratt (12), G. Warburton (22), M. Edwards, B. Fox, J. Palmer, J. Macsorely, L. Manning (19), L. Fryer.