Wheelchair Basketball World Championships: GB men beat USA in final

By Elizabeth HudsonBBC Sport in Hamburg
George Bates
George Bates was GB's joint top scorer with 17 points

Great Britain men's wheelchair basketball team created history with victory over the USA in the final of the World Championship in Hamburg.

The GB team claimed a 79-62 win over the Rio Paralympic champions for their first global gold medal.

George Bates and Harry Brown led the GB scoring with 17 points apiece.

"From the build-up we were confident we could win this tournament," Brown told BBC Sport.

"All the pressure was on the USA today. We knew if we played our game we would come out on top."

The sides had met in the pool stage with the USA winning 66-59, but the GB players were confident they could turn the tables in the final.

There was never more than a basket or two in it in the opening quarter and in a tough, physical encounter, GB led by eight points in the second quarter - 38-30 - before the USA brought it back to 38-33 at the interval.

GB continued to maintain their advantage with coach Haj Bhania showing faith in his starting five of Brown, captain Phil Pratt, Gregg Warburton, Lee Manning and Simon Brown while Bates also came in to make a big impact in the second half.

They held firm and pulled away in the latter stages to spark scenes of jubilation among the players and fans.

Warburton was later named as the most valuable player of the tournament - a huge honour for the 21-year-old from Leigh who took up the sport as a 10-year-old.

"This is the start of something great," added Pratt.

"I've just played against Matt Scott and Steve Sterio who were among my idols growing up - I watched hours of clips of them and now I have played against them and beaten them in a World Championship final. It is ridiculous.

"We have been working hard to get to this stage and the belief in the team has been so high. We definitely believed we could win.

"This is the first time we have ever been in this situation. We aren't the underdogs anymore and we will now have a different mindset as we build towards Tokyo."

GB lost 56-40 to the Netherlands in the women's final on Saturday.

Co-captain Helen Freeman, who was a star performer in the historic semi-final win over Germany, was named on the women's All-Star team.

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