Rio de Janeiro (Rio 2016 Paralympic Games) – An expected big win by an in-form American side; a surprisingly close game between Spain and Germany; a just as surprising not so close one between Great Britain and Australia; and an exuberant but nonetheless futile run by Brazil against Turkey were all part of today's quarterfinal action in the men's basketball tournament at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
With the German squad yet to impress, going 2-3 on the way to fourth place in the group stage, it was expected that Spain should easily have the better of this one in the midst of their most successful Paralympic run in 20 years.
They won a stacked Group A over Turkey, Australia, and Netherlands, with only the loss against Turkey just a 3-point margin.
But Germany played their best game of the tournament and led by 5 after three quarters. Dirk Passiwan hit 3 of 5 three-pointers and 14 points. Andre Bienek had 16 points and 8 assists. Thomas Bohme added 11 and Alexandr Halouski led the team with 21 points and 15 rebounds.
But Spain came to play and outscored Germany in the fourth 22-13 to take the day 70-66 and move to face Great Britain in a semifinal.
The triple edged sword of Alejandro Zarazuela, Pablo Zarazuela and Asier Garcia carried the scoring load for Spain with 22, 21 and 22 points respectively. Garcia capped a triple-double on the day with 11 rebounds and 13 assists.
USA vs. Netherlands
With its worst start to a game yet, the Americans went down by 8 points to the Netherlands in the first quarter. But a game lasts four quarters and the best team in the tournament after week one adjusted as necessary and chipped away while holding the Dutch to just 2 points in the second quarter to lead by 7 after 20 minutes. As in several other matches, 10 of the 12 USA players scored in the game and they would win 70-37.
The third quarter erased any doubt as to whom the better team was with a 20-4 run that put the game away. Captain Steve Serio led the Americans with 18 points on 9 of 12 shooting along with Josh Turek scoring 14.
Mustafa Korkmaz led the Netherlands with 17 points.
Great Britain vs. Australia
In a tournament with more than four true contenders, someone has to get hurt in the quarterfinals and the matchup between perennial strongmen Australia and Great Britain promised to be that game.
The silver medalists from London led the Brits by 4 after one quarter and by 2 at the half.
GB went on an 11-0 run across the 3rd and 4th quarters to go ahead by a dozen and it only got worse from there, capped by the final 23 point difference at 74-51.
"It was always a tough one," noted British co-captain Simon Brown. "Australia are a huge rival of ours."
Ian Sagar and Phil Pratt paced the attack with 26 and 20 points respectively on a combined 19 of 26 shots from the field. The Brits also moved the ball well with 27 assists on their 31 baskets, led by Gaz Choudhry's 10 and Pratt's 8.
"We’ve got Spain next," said co-captain Terry Bywater.
And I just believe that if we stick together and stick to our game plan, this team’s going to go all the way to the final. - Bywater
Turkey vs. Brazil
Well into the first half the fans kept coming and the energy, which was strong to begin with, got only more exciting. But the power of the sixth man fans could not overwhelm the talent difference with a Turkish side that finished third at the 2014 IWBF World Championships and has higher aspirations than the 7th place they claimed in London.
Led by Ozgur Gurbulak the Turks were ahead by 19 at the half (39-20) and by as much as 25. Brazil played them even in the third quarter and won the fourth to close the final margin to 16 in 65-49 win that will place Turkey into a semifinal against the United States.
Gurbulak led Turkey with 17 points, 11 assists and 7 rebounds. Ferit Gumus scored 16 with 10 rebounds.
Marcos Candido Sanchez led Brazil with 18 points with Leandro de Miranda adding 16 and 9 rebounds.
Canada v Algeria
Officially 11th, Canada dropped ten spots below their finish in London. Canada ended their competition with a 70-51 win over Algeria on Wednesday morning at the Rio Olympic Arena, surprisingly the first victory for the 2012 gold medalists.
"Even though we have had some tough losses, we knew we had to persevere, to come out and show our mental toughness, and to come out strong this game," said first-time Paralympian Ben Moronchuk.