July 7 - In a pulsating climax to the European Wheelchair Basketball Championships in Frankfurt, Great Britain overcame Turkey to retain their crown today.
Having defeated Spain the day before, Britain survived a late onslaught from Turkey, who had overcome Sweden in the other semi-final, to claim their ninth European crown on a scoreline of 59-57.
The Turks had led by ten points at one stage in the contest as they looked to claim the gold medal that eluded them in Bahrain four years earlier following their defeat to Italy in the final.
However, a run of five missed free-throws out of six in the final stages of the match meant that the Turkish side tasted defeat for the second time inside a year against Britain, following their quarter-final clash at London 2012.
The British men were down 8-16 after the first quarter, which forced head coach Haj Bhania into making a number of defensive changes.
Those changes saw Britain claw back the deficit and at half-time the two sides were locked on 26 points each.
British captain Abdi Jama, who was selected onto the men's All Star Team of the tournament along with fellow finalist Özgür Gurbulak from Turkey, landed the final basket of an engrossing third period to send his side into the final quarter leading by 47-45.
Turkey hit back straight away to regain the lead before six unanswered points from the British side saw them lead by five with seven minutes remaining.
The pendulum swung back in Turkey's favour again however, as they hit eight points in a row but the reigning champions signalled that they were not going to relinquish their crown lightly by coming back with six points of their own, which ultimately proved to be the decisive scores of the game.
"It's fantastic to win gold," said a relieved Bhania.
"We are a great team, we played really well and Turkey gave us a big battle, they played brilliantly.
"I thought it was a great final with the two best teams of the tournament here.
"We had to do something special to win and credit to the team they were just unbelievable," he said.
Britain's top scorer, Ian Sagar enjoyed the heat of battle in a thrilling match and was delighted to have retained the European gold medal.
"We came out here to win and we've done it," said the man who finished with 17 points in the final.
"We knew the Turkish were going to be tough and what a final to play in.
"This is why I play basketball, not for the celebration after but to play in those games.
"I didn't even know I was top scorer, you get caught up in the moment and you just play the game as it comes, but it's a nice little bonus."
Britain and Turkey will be joined by losing semi-finalists Spain and Sweden, along with Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, as automatic qualifiers for next year's International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) World Championships in Incheon, South Korea.
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