THURSDAY, June 08 saw the opening day of the 2017 Under-23 World Wheelchair Basketball Championships in Toronto, Canada. Pitting Amawheelies against the defending World Champions, Germany – in their very first game – has indeed proved to be a very difficult task to perform for the local boys.
Despite this defeat, Sasol Amawheelies displayed some moments of brilliance against one of the most elite teams in the world and Eastern Cape youngster, Ayabonga Jim has managed to put his hand up as a rising talent of the future.
A packed Mattamy Athletic Centre hosted a colourful opening ceremony ahead of the Sasol Amawheelaboys first match against. The young South African team went into the game having lost their Captain Steven Walgenbach and Mava Mlomo a few days prior to the teams’ departure from Johannesburg, which made an already daunting task that much harder.
Right from the opening tip off the German youngsters showed their class and totally out played the young boys from Mzansi in the first quarter, racing to a 32 to 2 lead at the buzzer. Musa Dlamini, the captain for Amawheelies had acknowledged even before the game that it was a very tough pool for the young SA team.
South Africa Coach Allen Mtatase echoed the captain’s sentiments and said that he appreciated the fact that his young team’s skills were going to be tested against the world’s best. Against this backdrop, both the coach and his Assistant Gerry Smith struggled to rally the boys during break and the offensive from the Germans did not let up.
It was very clear that Amawheelaboys were flustered and that there was absolutely no answer for the relentless full court press employed by the Germans. The South Africans struggled to get over their own half and numerous turn overs saw the Germans extend their lead to 44:10 at the half time.
After a passionate plea from the coaching staff at half time, the South Africans eventually showed glimpses of their true potential, clawing back 24 hard earned points against the World Champions.
Although the score line suggest one story, the real story was the grit and determination that saw the South Africans never give up, and indeed had the youngsters converted more of their shots, the result would have been quite different.
“This first game was proof enough to our local boys that the World Wheelchair Basketball Championships is indeed an elite international competition contested by the top men’s U/23 national teams from across the globe,” added Mtatase.
Final score was South Africa 24 vs. Germany 89. Next up for South Africa is France on Friday, 09 June at 18:00 South African time. Live streaming available on: sportscanada.tv/u23wwbc
|Additional Info: SA Fixtures in Group B|
|Session||Game||Match||Pool||Group||Canada Time||RSA Time||Home||Away|
|Day 3 – Saturday, 10 June 2017|
|Day 4 – Sunday, 11 June 2017|
|Day 5 – Monday, 12 June 2017|