Part 2. If at first you don’t succeed try again, right?
Hopefully you know the drill by now! I’m Mark, I’m back with Ben Fox after we posted our Round-of-16 predictions yesterday. It’s been a whirlwind of a day as that round has come and gone, and there are 8 teams left standing that will go into the Men’s Quarter Finals.
Ben and I set it up so that we’d each get a point for every correct win/loss prediction, with the possibility of an extra point if we also predicted the margin of victory for our team. At the end of the day, we’ve tied at 6, with Ben getting the point as Spain beat my chosen darkhorse, Japan, and me picking up the point as Argentina eliminated Italy.
Neither of us called Canada getting knocked out by Poland (I don’t think either of the teams themselves did, either) and neither of us got a margin of victory dead-on, although Ben did come within 1, as Australia beat Brasil by 19.
It was also almost tied at 5-5 as, after 3 and a half quarters, it looked like the Netherlands were poised to prove us both wrong as they were in position to bounce Turkey. Go back and watch the last 5 minutes of that game. Incredible.
So onto the Quarter Finals! Known as the most important game of tournament basketball, win this and you are guaranteed a shot at a medal. As the stakes are raised, games become a lot tougher to call.
Great Britain v Spain (10:45 GMT)
A repeat of the 2016 Rio Paralympics semi final which saw underdogs Spain clinch victory to earn their highest ever finish. GB will look for vengeance as they come off the back of a good win against hosts Germany, in front of a packed out arena. Spain look to keep momentum going after their first win in the round of 16 against Japan. This is sure to be a great game.
Mark: This game will carry some extra meaning for the majority of the GB roster, who were part of the Rio 2016 team too. I’m probably going to sound biased here, but I’m going to call for a big GB win, and even branch out into using some actual evidence and reasoning to back it up:
- Despite the loss on their record, Great Britain have been as good as anyone in the tournament, as they gave the US something serious to think about and convincingly handled Poland, South Korea & Germany to get here.
- I was at the Continental Clash last month, and I witnessed a 31-4 first quarter to GB’s advantage against Spain.
- Reigning Paralympic silver medallists or not, the fact that Spain are into the last 8 at all may officially make them the least legitimate quarter-finalist I have EVER seen in a world competition. 3 pool losses and a 2-point win over Japan, where they led by 15 just 10 minutes before. Get out of my sight.
- GB by 18
Ben: I won’t babble on like Mark. I’m backing GB all the way this competition. I believe they will get the job done. Great Britain by 16.
USA vs Argentina (13:00 GMT)
Two teams come into the first QF with still only one loss between them, as the Americas Cup rivals will go head-to-head for the chance to punch their ticket to a medal game. The USA took the easier route to this game as they dispatched Morocco by 51 points (more than either writer’s bold prediction), while Argentina had to spend a solid 40 minutes putting Italy away.
Mark: As much as I’ve enjoyed watching Argentina this tournament, I think this is the end of the road for their medal hopes. They’re about to run into a juggernaut of a team that’s going to be chasing statement wins at this point. USA by 21.
Ben: Argentina have done extremely well to reach the quarter final stage, watching Berdun control the pace of the game in the round of 16 was a joy. However I don’t seem them stopping the USA. Coming of the back of a comfortable win against Morocco, I’m expecting the USA to continue their path to the final. USA by 16.
Iran v Turkey (17:00 GMT)
This game promises to be an intense encounter, with two very temperamental and fiery teams going at it for a semi-final spot. Turkey took the tough route to get here, trailing the Netherlands with 5 minutes left in their last game before pulling it out. Iran are still undefeated and closed out a scrappy South Korea team to get this far.
Mark: Everything you ever need to know about Turkish wheelchair basketball was on display against the Netherlands. No team lives and dies by momentum as much as these guys do, and no other team can turn the tide in a single barrage of 3-point shots. If that momentum of the last 5 minutes of the game against the Dutch carries over, then I think Turkey take this one. On the other hand, Iran have shown what they’re made of, and have plenty of momentum in their own right. Japan were my designated underdog this tournament, and I need a new one now. I’m gonna go bold here and predict an Iran win in a seriously competitive game. Iran by 3.
Ben: This could go down as the most aggressive and intense games ever. I expect to see a lot of fist pumping and coaches running down the sideline as both teams like to express their passion during the game. Again, Turkey don’t look like the usual Turkey, however Ozgur Gurbalak showed why he is regarded as one of the best 4.0s in the world when he drained 3 three pointers in the last 5 minutes to help his team progress. Iran will play a big 3 throughout and look to score most of their points inside the key. But for me, Turkey marginally take this one. Turkey by 8.
Australia v Poland (19:15 GMT)
After causing an upset against Canada, Poland look to take on wheelchair basketball giants Australia, who came away with a 19 point win against Brasil. Poland again go into the game as the dark horses and will look to cause 2 upsets in the space of 48 hours. Australia however will prove difficult opponents, utilising their three 3’s line-up well in the form of Shaun Norris, Tom O’Neill Thorne and Kim Robbins.
Mark: We used the words ‘ever the dark-horse’ about Poland yesterday, and turns out that there was never a truer word written. After a shaky group stage, Poland pulled out what I believe will eventually become known as a ‘Poland game’, where their talent and shooting was just too much for a quality, although flawed, opponent to overcome. Years from now, we’ll probably look back at this tournament and see the Poland-Canada game as the stem of the biggest ‘what-if’, as Canada would probably have had a better chance to advance from this point onwards, had they got through. End of the line for Poland here against a focused Aussie team. Australia by 12.
Ben: I see no upsets happening here, Australia are too strong and dominant for Poland to keep up with them. Poland have the ability to shoot a high percentage in Bandura and Piotr, however I cannot see them being able to stop the slashes from Norris and O’Neill Thorne. Let alone the inside presence of Latham. Australia by 18.