One round closer.
Quarter-final games are in the books. Four teams are left standing, the other 12 are also-rans (ok, that isn’t technically how it works, but you get where I’m coming from). I’m Mark, and I’m back here, with Ben, to plead our cases for what’s going to happen in the first round of classification games.
We came into QF day tied with 6 correct predictions each, so the season’s-worth-of-coffees-on-the-line scorekeeping was still all to play for. Also, the teams themselves probably found these games pretty important, for their own reasons, but let’s not worry about that too much. The current score stands at 10-9 with Mark going a perfect 4/4 after Iran’s upset over European champions Turkey. Mark also came within a single point of doubling his lead, as Australia beat Poland by 11 instead of his predicted 12. Tristan Knowles did me a real solid with that missed free-throw. With being behind at this stage, it’s probably a good job I own a Costa reward card.
This edition sees us trying to predict the outcome of the first classification matches. These teams have already been eliminated from the main competition and will battle it out in their respective tiers to try and earn the highest ranking possible. The first classification matches begin to decide who will finish 5th-8th and 9th-12th. As well as 13th-14th and 15th-16th being cleared up.
After much deliberation, we had decided that we had a combined zero idea how this competition format works, and we still aren’t totally sure how these matchups have come about. Nevertheless, here they are, hot and ready for our unqualified opinions.
This year’s World Championships has been as unpredictable as any major competition either of us have ever seen. The pool of talent in the world is as deep as it’s ever been, and that’s reflected in the fact that you’ve got legitimately talented teams matching up for the lower finishes in the tournament. While some of these games might lack the aura of a medal game, ignoring them would be a real mistake, as there’s still going to be some great basketball.
So, enough out of us. Let’s get cracking…
5th-8th Classification Match:
Spain v Turkey
A rematch of the bronze medal game from the World Championships 4 years ago. Turkey and Spain come into this game following relatively disappointing tournaments, by their own standards, but were each very close to cracking the semi-finals despite this.
Ben: Both teams were involved in tight games which went right down to the final buzzer. I’m expecting both benches to be used a fair amount in this game, which could lead to complete new starting fives. With the score being in Mark’s favour, its time to be brave. Spain by 12.
Mark: Really tough to know what to call here. I’d have never believed you if you told me these teams were going to be facing each other at this stage of the competition, but both teams have bordered on unrecognisable at times over the last week. Turkey are a very emotional team, coming off of a gut-wrenching loss to Iran, so they’re a complete enigma and could either come out flat or all-guns-blazing. I’m truly torn here, but I think Turkey have enough pride to will themselves to a win. Turkey by 9.
9th-12th Classification Match:
Argentina v Poland
Ben: Two of the surprise packages in this tournament. Argentina will be disappointed in the way they went down in the quarter final, despite being up against the formidable USA. Poland had a polar opposite quarter final, against another force of the wheelchair basketball world. They managed to stick with Australia and eventually went down by 13 points (hahaha Mark). I believe both teams will want to finish as high as possible. Argentina by 11.
Mark: As Ben mentioned, I think both these teams have already over-achieved in reaching the QF stage of the tournament, and both were unfortunate to run into a buzzsaw of a team once they got there. It seems that Poland only ever become more impossible to predict as time goes on, but they looked spent by the 3rd quarter of their game against Australia, which definitely isn’t a good sign for a team that usually only plays 7 or 8 guys. Throw out the final score of the Argentina-USA game, that wasn’t the real Argentina at all. Expect Argentina to pounce on Poland here and get away from them in the second half. Argentina by 14.
15th-16th Classification Match:
Brazil v Morocco
Despite each having a disappointing tournament up to this point, nobody ever wants to come last. Expect both teams’ pride to be on full display here as they battle to close the tournament on a positive note.
Ben: Morocco have had a pretty tough tournament, yet to get a win on the board. This is something they would like to achieve before the tournament draws to a close. Brasil on the other hand have experienced a win and did stick around with semi-finalists Australia when the two teams met in the Round of 16 matches. For me, this is a Brasil win. Brasil by 22.
Mark: I called Brasil one of my pre-tournament dark-horses, which hasn’t quite panned out but also only seems to make them more inexplicable. Their lone win in the tournament came against the Japan team that topped the group and came one possession away from making the QFs, and they ran European champs Turkey very close. It’s a shame the games fell like they did for them, as they could have been a dangerous team in the QF round had they got there. Morocco don’t offer me much to talk about and, as much as I’d love to back my former teammate, Reda Mataaoui, I don’t see Morocco getting a win here. Brasil by 26.
13th-14th Classification Match:
Germany vs South Korea
Ultimately a very low-seeded matchup for two teams with this much ability and on-paper appeal. Neither team has a lot to play for here, but equally little to lose. Even despite a tough run in the World Championships, expect the German public to be out in full force, in an effort to will the host team to a closing win.
Ben: It hasn’t been the tournament the hosts planned out, after crashing out at the Round of 16 stage after an incredible game against semi-finalists GB. Germany will come out hungry and will want to put on a show in front of the home crowd. South Korea saw their hopes of advancing end as they came up against another semi-finalist in Iran. If Germany play to their full potential, I see them ending their tournament with a W. Germany by 18.
Mark: Germany, Germany, Germany. I’ve stopped trying to know what this team is. Weak in most of the pre-tournament friendlies, before coming out and winning their last two friendly tournaments, followed up by a rocky pool stage and one of the most schizophrenic, game-of-two-halves performances I have ever witnessed against GB. Seem too talented to rank this low, but I’ll give them a closer-than-expected win against a South Korea team that has had an equal amount of trouble figuring themselves out. Germany by 7.
These posts are getting later and later, and we’ve each spent more time on Microsoft Word than we ever did at uni. Thanks for reading.
Hope you guys are enjoying this series, and feel free to comment your predictions too! Although, to be totally honest, we probably won’t be buying you any coffees.
Check back tomorrow!
Ben & Mark