Pete Finbow and GB thwarted by USA in bronze medal quest
No-one epitomises the British bulldog spirit more than Bradford wheelchair basketball player Pete Finbow but Uncle Sam prevailed over John Bull to deny Great Britain a third consecutive Paralympic bronze medal.
Finbow and Co lost out to Canada in their semi-final but they had high hopes of beating their across-the-Pond rivals for bronze, just as they had done 85-77 at Beijing 2008.
But after a nervous start, Great Britain slipped to a 61-46 defeat in the bronze medal match and had to settle for fourth place – another piece of history between the two nations at the Games.
As well as their Beijing showdown, GB prevailed in the Athens 2004 quarter-finals, with Ade Adepitan famously holding his nerve from the free-throw line at the death, while at Sydney 2000 the Americans triumphed in the bronze medal match.
This defeat would seem to mark the end of an era for a number of Great Britain players – only four of those in London were not in Beijing while most are the wrong side of 30, including Finbow at 37.
And while Finbow has been a stalwart for Great Britain throughout their last three Paralympics, head coach Murray Treseder admits he and a number of other squad members have a fight on their hands to remain in contention for selection for Rio 2016.
“We think we have an outstanding junior and development programme in this country, so the future is definitely bright for us,” said Treseder.
“Harry Brown went to the Europeans as a 17-year-old and Lee Manning, who is 22, is 6ft 8in and has a 7-foot wingspan, so we think that the pressure that they will put on these guys will be healthy.
“About a third of the squad from one Games to the other will change, so I think we will have people under pressure to stay in the team.
“The game is evolving and it’s hard to keep up when you’re in your mid-30s and it only gets harder.
“After our second game we’ve played pretty well – in fact, I think we were outstanding for the next four games and to get to a semi-finals was excellent and we played better teams in Canada and the USA. That’s the harsh reality.
“But I’m never satisfied until we can get a great performance from every person and I know that if everyone had played to their potential against the USA then we would have won the game. It’s very difficult for that to happen.”
After a cagey opening that saw the deadlock remain locked for more than two-and-a-half minutes, the USA settled the quicker and moved into a 17-10 lead after the first quarter and had extended that to 29-20 by half-time.
Yet Great Britain, and Terry Bywater especially, came out swinging and levelled things up at 33-33, only to go in at the end of the third quarter 39-33 down and with it all to do in the last quarter.
Treseder believes the occasion got the better of his players, claiming they left themselves with too much to do. “At half-time we were pretty upset with how we played, we didn’t feel we had given a good account of ourselves,” he said.
“Sure we were nervous and the crowd was big but the noise has been the same pretty much all the way through the competition.
“The third quarter was a good performance and we did well to get back into it. At 33-33 we then let it slip with some poor decisions and then we were chasing the game and the USA were very professional in those circumstances.”
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