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Basketballers book spot
- Updated: October 14, 2011
Our Amawheelaboyz are on a rollÔÇª all the way to next year’s London 2012 Paralympics.
That’s after the Team South Africa wheelchair basketballers overcame some hostile conditions and tough play to put in their best performance of the year and qualify for London with a clinical 83-54 win over Morocco in the finals of the African qualifying event in Rabat on Thursday night.
The result means that Team South Africa went through the entire qualifying tournament unbeaten and take the only spot available at the tournament to book themselves a spot in the London 2012 competition, where they will face the best teams in the world.
There were some nerves in the first quarter, as Morocco started fired-up and looked to stop Richard Nortje’s game-breaking abilities. For a while it worked, as the host nation, in tough conditions and in front of a fiercely partisan home crowd held out for an 18-14 lead.
But Team South Africa upped their game in the second quarter, taking control of the match and heading into the half 43-27 ahead.
From there they never looked back as they ensured the victory by the end of the third quarter, leading 63-39 and finished strongly for a magnificent 29 point victory to seal their spot at the Paralympics.
Coach Patrick Fick was overjoyed at the result, which came after some tough preparation in Europe and Australia, where the team played the best in the world. ÔÇ£It is awesome; I never expected such a big win. Twenty nine points is big,ÔÇØ an ecstatic Fick said after the game.
ÔÇ£We did start with a bit of nerves, and Morocco obviously had a strategy to try and stop Richard. But once we made some adjustments to our game and kept to our strategy we took control. The guys were so determined to get the win that they wouldn’t be stopped. This is great as it makes all the effort worthwhile.ÔÇØ
Fick said that while they had a lot of work ahead of them in the next year, the recent tours to Europe and Australia had served their purpose, as it had bonded the team together as a family. Now that they’ve shown they can play as a unit, he expects their performance level to keep on the up.
ÔÇ£We’ve worked hard here, and we’ve had a sound preparation programme with our tours to Europe and Australia. We may have suffered some heavy defeats there, but I always believed playing at a higher standard would help us in the long run.
ÔÇ£Still nothing can prepare you for the hostile crowd and what you will face but it is nice to know that there is an inner belief in this team, and they are such a family now. After all these tours we’ve built up such a good spirit that the belief came through.
ÔÇ£They wanted the qualification and they got it, and by the end of the third quarter we were in control. We haven’t really hit our stride yet and I know we can play better going ahead.ÔÇØ
Fick added that the team would ÔÇ£enjoy the momentÔÇØ before refocusing their efforts on what was required for London 2012.
Team South Africa will arrive home at OR Tambo International Airport on Saturday morning at 10am on flight AF990 from Paris.
The Paralympic Team are proudly partnered by Mercedes Benz, Nedbank, National Lottery, Pick n Pay, Sasol, Sun International, Telkom, the Department of Sport and Recreation and Vodacom.