USA remains undefeated at Rio Qualifier after Day Two
By Nathaniel Holland
USA continued their winning run into Day Two in Paris, which was not as successful for host nation France who failed to record a victory. New Zealand and Denmark enjoyed double wins whilst Germany and Finland failed to win either of their games.
Germany 52-59 Denmark
In the opening fixture of Day Two, Germany and Denmark went wheel-to-wheel in an epic early morning encounter in Paris.
The two sides were evenly matched throughout the tie and Denmark won the early battles to take a two-point advantage into the second quarter. A turning point in the early period of play came with the score at 5-5. Jon Johanneson (2.5) dispossesses Andrej Leonhard (2.0) and the ball falls to Leon Jorgensen who managed to capitalise on the turnover.
The second quarter was littered with players spending time in the penalty box and it was Denmark who made more of a gap in the score, taking a three-point lead into half-time with the score at 27-30.
Denmark were well and truly in their element and managed to double their advantage over the following eight minute spell taking the score to 38-44 going into the last period.
Germany played well but their time was running out. Denmark did lose possession thanks to Leonhard’s hard work in the attacking half but the ball was back with Denmark before any real attack could materialize. The Scandinavians ran down the clock to secure their second win of the week with a 52-59 score.
USA 60–32 Finland
USA continued their winning streak with a comfortable 60-32 over Finland. James Gumbert’s men had all but put the game to bed in the opening quarter putting a 13-point gap between them and the opposition, a score that even the best of teams would struggle to turn around.
It was a simple but effective game plan for USA as they built on the lead in the second quarter. Low pointer Tuomas Tella (0.5) was impressive for Finland but the performance of USA’s Ernie Chun (2.0) really caught the eye. Chun was alert to mark Finland’s Jukka Parviainen (3.5) out of the game but Finland rallied and Anna Pasanen (0.5) rolled over the line to keep Finland in the points.
With a 35-14 score going into half time break, it was a huge task for Finland as USA piled on more points. USA used the clock well during Parviainen’s stint in the penalty box before he was subbed off for Tuukka Nisso.
The final quarter continued in the same fashion and USA confirmed their third victory in two days with a final 60-32 score.
Germany 46–51 New Zealand
In one of the closest games so far, New Zealand narrowly edged out a spirited German side in the day’s third game.
Germany, who had only finished playing less than two hours before the next tip-off, looked to be keeping up with a fresh New Zealand side but it was the Wheel Blacks who took a four-point lead into the first interval.
Germany came out for the second period and battled to halve their deficit and reduce the gap to three points. As the clocked ticked on leading into half time, the Germans pushed on and Jens Sauerbier (2.0) scored in the dying moments of the quarter to pull Germany within two points.
In the third quarter, Germany managed to drag themselves back into contention following a couple of turnovers. Maik Baumann (3.0) regained possession and Thomas Schuwje (1.5) finished off the move rolling over the line to equal the score.
The Kiwis used the clock well and managed to time their scoring perfectly to take a slender one-point lead into the final quarter thanks to Dan Buckingham (3.0).
New Zealand held on in the final period and it was all but over for the German side when Swen Michaelis (3.5) took a tumble on the line resulting in no goal and a turnover of possession allowing NZ to take a two-point lead.
The Wheel Blacks kept cool heads to wind the clock down and win the game with a neat five-point advantage.
France 41–63 USA
The two early pace setters went head to head in what could be described as the match of the day. However, USA were in fine form and managed to end France’s unbeaten run, whilst in turn extending their own run of games.
USA stormed to victory against the hosts, edging closer to a place at the 2016 Paralympic Games. The Eagles gained a six-point advantage following the first quarter, a lead that they would only build upon for the duration of the fixture.
Little mistakes from France were punished with full effect and the home nation were soon 11 points behind before half time. It was an efficient performance from USA who were solid in the defence and deadly in the offence.
An 11-point gap was more than worthy of their first half efforts but they kept up the tempo in the third quarter to go 14 clear with eight minutes remaining.
It was a routine finish in the end with USA cruising to victory with a 22-point lead to really state their intentions on reaching Rio.
Denmark 63-44 Finland
Finland suffered their fourth defeat of the week following a 63-44 loss against Denmark. Having lost twice on the opening day, a heavy defeat to USA at the start of Day Two preceded the loss to the Danes.
Denmark dominated from the start, gaining a quick three-point advantage after just a few minutes on court. Finland were hot on Denmark’s wheels in the early duals but after only trailing by three after eight minutes, their deficit increased to a nine point gap going into the half time break.
Denmark had covered the court well and managed to take advantage of any opportunity to roll over the line. It became harder and harder for Finland to make any strides to shrink the gap as Denmark slowly increased their lead to 13 points with the score at 46-33 at the end of the third quarter.
As the minutes ticked on, Denmark continued to show why they were ahead and racked up an impressive 19-point gap before the final whistle, giving them three wins from a possible four this week.
France 51-56 New Zealand
It was a thrilling end to Day Two as France narrowly lost out to New Zealand, making it a miserable day for the hosts who failed to win either of their games.
The result comes as a surprise following France’s success on Day One but New Zealand, having lost twice on the opening day had come back fresh to put two wins on the board.
It was a close opening period of play as the two teams tried to match each other on the scoreboard. There were mini battles going on across the court with both number 13s Dan Buckingham (3.0) and Christophe Salegui (3.0) exchanging blows.
New Zealand did force a two-point lead in the first quarter when Buckingham latched on to a loose pass from Adrian Chalmin (0.5). However France battled hard to keep the score level at 13-13 going into the first interval.
The introduction of French high pointer Ryadh Sallem added some ferocity to the France line but his high intensity style of play ended with two stints in the penalty box, allowing New Zealand to run the clock down and go two points clear.
In the third quarter, the Wheel Blacks extended their lead to three points but France showed great resilience to get back to two points behind thanks to a blistering last second score from Sallem who rolled over in the nick of time.
The Kiwis managed to go four points clear in the final quarter and France left themselves very little time to force any sort of comeback, despite the efforts of Sallem and Jonathan Hivernat (3.0). New Zealand ran down the final moments taking a 51-56 final score ending a successful day for the Southern Hemisphere nation.
For full results and tomorrow’s schedule, please visit www.IWRF.com