First things first. Great Britain’s men’s and women’s teams have both made the final of the World Championships. Exceptional.
This edition see’s places 7th-12th wrapped up in the men’s competition.
Classification 11th-12th 08:30 GMT
Canada v Italy
Both teams started the tournament promisingly, qualifying comfortably for the Round of 16. Unfortunately, the boat stopped there for both teams as they were eliminated by their respective opponents. It’s been a long wait for both teams having not had a game in three days due to the structure of the tournament. Papi and Carassino have been pivotal to their offence, averaging 21.5PPG between them. Canada will be looking to their superstar Patrick Anderson on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. Anderson is close to averaging a triple double for the tournament; with 25.75PPG, 12.25RPG and 7.5APG. Both teams will look to finish the tournament with a win, ending on a high.
Mark: An exceptionally in-depth analysis of this game would indicate that Patrick Anderson is, in fact, Canadian, which would seem to give Canada the on-paper advantage in an 11th-12th battle that is a far lower finish than the man himself predicted before the tournament. Italy have been so scrappy and played so hard that no opponent has gotten comfortable against them, but their roster doesn’t look to be armed with a player, or combination of players, that can slow Anderson down. Italy’s best hope is the fact that their all-around size might be enough to give Canada’s second-leading scorer, Nik Goncin, some trouble getting shots off. But then again, anything that seems to give Pat more reason to have to win a game by himself seems counterproductive for his opponent. Canada by 13.
Ben: An early start for both teams, but I see this game being fairly close throughout. Italy will look to play three big, while Canada will go with two big in Anderson and Goncin. Stopping Anderson from controlling the game will be key for Italy, but that’s easier said than done. If Italy are disciplined and keep out of foul trouble, they could pose a threat in terms of mismatches. This game could come down to the battle of the guards and by that I mean which guards can get their big guys open shots, as well as holding up strong on the defensive end. I want to steal a point here. Italy by 8.
Classification 7th-8th 10:45 GMT
Turkey v Argentina
A clash of fortunes comes to a head in this game, as one of the of the tournament’s biggest underachievers in Turkey meet one of its most pleasant surprises, Argentina. The battle for the last spot in the top half of the tournament is a tribute to the leveling-out effect in the wheelchair basketball world over the last four years, where the 2014 World Championships saw Turkey finish in bronze medal position and Argentina finish twelfth. The world stage is more competitive than ever, and each of these teams will try to go out of the tournament on a bang, hoping to leave a statement.
Turkey have been tough to call all tournament, losing multiple games that history would imply favoured them, and only pulling out shaky wins over what would seem to be weaker opponents. It only got tougher to predict when they sat their star player, Ozgur Gurbulak, out for the majority of the 2-point loss to Spain that led them to this classification game. On the other hand, Argentina have been competitive against nearly every team they’ve faced, pulling out some grown-man wins and hanging in their until the bitter end of their eventual loss to Poland. Adolfo Berdun has carried a heavy load for Argentina, and will look to do it one last time. It could just be enough to put Argentina over the top, against the odds, one last time. Argentina by 6.
Ben: Before this tournament, I would never have imagined I would be writing about Turkey in a classification game for 7th place. But that is the beauty of sport, it throws up surprises when you least expect it. There have been moments in this tournament that have made me believe that Turkey might be coming back to their old selves. But the back to back losses against Iran and Spain could have depleted all confidence. Argentina on the other hand will be happy with their tournament progression, but has their harsh loss against USA, followed by a narrowing defeat to Poland also dampened their mood? I just can’t see Turkey losing 3 in a row. Turkey by 16.
Classification 9th-10th 13:05 GMT
Japan v Netherlands
These two teams have verged on forgotten since the tournament kicked into high-gear following the round of 16, but they will take to the court against each other for one last hurrah. Japan will be looking to match their 9th-place finish from Incheon 2014, while the Netherlands are already guaranteed better than their 15th-place finish at that tournament, but will be looking to add a final solid performance to a competition resume that includes wins of Australia and Spain, as well as pushing Turkey to breaking point in the game in which they were eliminated.
Mark: Anyone who’s been reading these articles this week, or who can bare to listen to me talk at all, knows how high I was on Japan going into this tournament. Truth be told, I still feel almost as bad for them, over their two-point RO16 loss to Spain, as I do about the fact that the prediction point for that game went to Ben. Japan aren’t exciting to watch in the same way that GB, USA or even Iran have been in this tournament, but I have a soft spot for their discipline and execution, as well as the way that I have literally never seen a Japanese player or coach question a referee’s decision. The Netherlands are fine, and have some talent, but I’m making this pick based on the simple fact that one team interests me and the other team doesn’t. Besides that, Japan deserve to go out on a win following a rough exit against Spain. Japan by 9.
Ben: I agree with Mark. I appreciate Japan’s style of play and what they are trying to achieve. Watch this space, they could be a force come Tokyo 2020. Netherlands have been hit and miss the tournament and that was summed up in their Round of 16 game against Turkey. After beating Spain and Australia things were looking up for Netherlands. Nether-the-less (excuse the pun) they find themselves facing a tough Japan side who will most definitely look to press, having averaged 7.5 steals a game, Netherlands will need to look after the ball. In the final classification game, this could be another close one to call. But I have to agree with Mark on this one. Japan by 15.
Ok, so we haven’t touched the Women’s side of the competition at all in our previews up to this point. This isn’t through any form of prejudice, but just because we’re more familiar with the Men’s game and that’s what Rosie asked us to write about.
But we’re happy to announce that we’re making an exception because the GB Women have been too damn successful to not be talked about. Yes, the GB WOMEN HAVE GONE AND PUNCHED THEIR TICKET TO THE WOMEN’S GOLD MEDAL GAME. It’s a historical step for the GB Women’s team, who had already secured their most successful finish ever by reaching the semi-final stage of the tournament, even before beating Germany to officially guarantee themselves a medal. On top of this, it gives us a good opportunity to carry on racking up points in the coffee-stakes, as we’re somehow still tied after 4 days. There is no doubt about it, Netherlands will be tough opponents and many have tipped them as favourites for this competition. However, GB come off the back of an exhilarating game against Germany boosted by the incredible performance from Helen Freeman, who finished the game with 32 points, 12 rebounds and 9 assists.
A huge good luck to the Great Britain women’s team as they go up against Netherlands to battle it out for the gold medal. You can catch that game live at 19:15 GMT right here:
Ben: Boosted by their emphatic win over hosts Germany, I believe GB will carry on their momentum and bring the gold home. GB by 6.
Mark: The Netherlands seem to have been the thorn in GB’s side, in the women’s division, for as long as I’ve been watching wheelchair basketball. The Dutch women are one hell of a team, as they have proved time and time again on the biggest stages. Ordinarily, it would be tough to bet against the Dutch here, but I’m of the belief that I witnessed something special, the culmination of years of hard work and commitment to consistent, incremental, improvement. That something special could be what the GB girls need to put them over the top of a formidable opponent. It’s bold, but I’m running with it. GB by 2.
Thank you again for reading, and we’ll see you again tomorrow for the final deciding of who buys coffees!
Mark & Ben (to be fair, mostly Ben on this one).