Semi-finals set for IWRF Paralympic Qualifier in Paris
As we finish the penultimate day three of the Paralympic Qualification tournament in Paris, Nathaniel Holland recaps on all the action and reports who made it through to Thursdays semi-finals.
USA 50-45 Denmark
USA booked their place in tomorrow’s semi finals with a well earned 50-45 victory over second placed Denmark.
Denmark had to wait on the result of the France game to guarantee their automatic semi-final spot, but the French side ended up comfortably beating Germany, meaning both sides were on six points and awaiting the result of New Zealand against Finland.
USA, who were unbeaten going into the game, were full of beans from the start and immediately built a three-point lead in the first period.
Thanks to the solid defensive work from Chad Cohn (1.0), USA were able to increase their lead to four points with Josh Wheeler (2.5) and Chuck Aoki (3.0) bossing the point scoring duties.
With a five-point gap to make up heading into the half time break, Denmark knew that it would take some high pressure and individual mistakes from the USA team for them to claw back the score.
But it was the table toppers who were on top again in the third period, maintaining the five-point gap and holding a tight defence filling the key.
The defence was solid throughout and Denmark started to make simple mistakes with misguided passes and struggling to break through to score quick points to make up the deficit.
USA finished the game strongly and cruised through to tomorrow’s semi-final stage.
France 63-45 Germany
France got a much needed 63-45 win over Germany but had to wait on the result of the New Zealand versus Finland game to find out if they had finished in the top two and secured an automatic semi-final spot.
With Denmark losing to USA in the day’s early tip-off, France could draw level on points with the Danes and so could NZ with a win against Finland.
France, who had a day to forget on Day Two having lost to USA and New Zealand, were hopeful of putting that behind them against a German side who had only picked up one win from the opening four games.
Germany took an early lead in the opening quarter, but the ever-reliable French high pointer Ryadh Sallem came off the bench and quickly showed why he has been one of the stars of the week.
The move that really showed France’s togetherness on court came from good interplay from captain Adrien Chalmin (0.5) who tapped the ball to Sallem who quickly set up Cedric Nankin (1.5) to score a nice point.
Germany fell apart and were in self destruct mode as they let France take a four point lead into the first break.
Mistakes cost Germany and Sallem was leaving players in his wake and he scored the point to put France nine points ahead. Germany did settle and restore a bit of pride but there was a seven-point gap to make up when the second period came to a close.
Steve Diederich (2.5) spilled the ball on the line in the early moments of the third quarter, allowing for another turnover, which France capitalised on extending their lead further and giving them a great chance of securing a semi-final spot.
France ended the game in style, drawling level on points with Denmark and condemning Germany to their fourth defeat of the week, but still had to wait to see if they had made the top two.
New Zealand 57-47 Finland
New Zealand beat all the odds to take the final automatic semi-final spot, but they left it late with a 57-47 win over Finland.
After a dreadful start on Day One, losing their opening two games, New Zealand won both of their Day Two fixtures before narrowly beating France to second position.
With France, New Zealand and Denmark all finishing with six points, the result went down to points difference from the games featuring the trio. New Zealand ended up with +4, France with +1 and Denmark with -4, which really shows how tight it was between second and fourth place.
Finland went into the game still searching for their first win of the week having lost their opening four games. Despite a fifth successive defeat, this was Finland’s best points return and their smallest losing margin, finishing the game just ten points behind.
Suomi (as they are known in their home land), like in the other games more than matched their opposition in the opening quarter. They went into the first interval at 13-13 but, just like in the previous four games, they were unable to keep up with the pace and eventually succumbed to defeat.
At the halfway stage, New Zealand were four points ahead and built on that advantage in the third period. After the re-start, the Kiwis sent out a fresh line of Sholto Taylor (2.0), Cody Everson (1.0), Rob Hewitt (2.0) and Cameron Leslie (3.0) and they managed to increase the lead to ten points, a gap that they would maintain until the end to finish the game with a 57-47 score.
Germany 47–55 Denmark
In the penultimate game of Day Three Denmark secured the third semi-final spot at the expense of Germany who are still looking to add to their one and only victory this week.
The fixture was a repeat of the Day Two encounter which Denmark narrowly beat their German counterparts 59-52. The score this time around was just as close and with the same outcome, this time Denmark running out 55-47 winners.
It was a high intensity start and both teams spent time in the lead in the opening exchanges. Thomas Schuwje was to thank for the scores being level at the end of the first quarter when the German 1.5 rolled over the line to make it 11-11.
The game followed a familiar pattern and Denmark managed to grab a hold of the game with both hands and force a small lead to make it 21-25 at the halfway stage.
Denmark managed to put the early defeat to the USA behind them and they confirmed their semi-final spot with a final eight-point lead to finish the game 47-55.
Finland 45-53 France
France completed the line up for tomorrow’s semi final games with a 45-53 victory over Finland.
Finland are still looking for their first win after six games but they will take great pride from this game, only losing by eight points, holding a strong France team for large parts of the game.
This was a repeat of the opening day fixture in which the hosts claimed a convincing 64-33 win.
France took an early three-point lead in the opening quarter, and it looked like déjà vu for Finland as they were behind in yet another game.
Finland gave it their all throughout the game and had something to prove. A long ball game plan seemed to be working with Jukka Parviainen throwing long for the waiting Antti Sinisaari to roll home.
France did build on their lead in the second quarter and the gap stretched to seven points going into the break.
Finland had a little fight back in the third period, pulling the score back within four points before France managed to open up a six point lead going into the final quarter.
The last eight minutes with a fairly comfortable lead was the perfect chance for France to rest some of their high pointers and Finland took advantage of the decision and started to dominate the court.
Sinisaari rolled over with two seconds on the clock to round off a solid Finland performance to mark the end of Day Three.
For tomorrow’s schedule, check www.IWRF.com as it promises to be an exciting run of games as we enter the business end of the tournament.