Thailand, Japan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were all victorious on the opening day of the 8th Fazza International Wheelchair Basketball Tournament – Dubai held at Al Ahli Indoor Stadium.
Japan came away as the biggest winners from the four initial outings after they beat Morocco by a 17-point margin (68-51), whereas Saudi Arabia, Thailand and the UAE enjoyed somewhat slender successes over Kuwait (56-50), Great Britain (54-51) and the Philippines (64-58) respectively.
“Our lack of execution and some costly errors let us down more than anything else,” admitted Great Britain coach Haj Bhania.
“There were times when we did some clumsy things that we shouldn’t be doing, but that’s all part of the learning curve for these young guys. They’re developing, they’ll improve and this is a good lesson for them. They’ll benefit from it.
“They’re disappointed to lose as they’re taking this competition seriously. They’re not going off now all jolly happy that they’re in a tournament in Dubai and enjoying themselves.
“I’m pleased to see that in a way and that’s good for them because part of the pathway is that you’ve got to learn to win as well as learn to lose.”
Hosts UAE held off a resurgent fightback from the Philippines as a 13-point buffer at the end of the first quarter (21-8) got whittled down to a seven-point cushion at the start of the fourth (49-42).
To the Filipinos’ great credit, parity was almost restored in a frenetic finale, but the flagging hosts belatedly regained their prior composure and control to ease home in the end.
“We’re not especially fit and we don’t have that much experience in comparison to the Philippines,” conceded UAE coach Ahmed Jassim.
“We were able to win though because we have some good players and we pressed them high up the court for the first two quarters, which gave us a big lead but also tired us out as a consequence.”
The Japanese were also involved in another tense and tight tussle that tilted one way and then the other for half an hour against their Moroccan opponents.
However, they took a four-point advantage (44-40) into the fourth and final quarter and surged away thereafter to eventually close out a commanding and comprehensive 68-51 triumph.
Saudi Arabia were 30-26 down at the midway point of their all-GCC clash with Kuwait, yet subsequently turned the tables – scoring 30 points to their opponents’ 20 in the process – to edge it at the buzzer.
This competition is being held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council (DSC), and organised and supervised by the Dubai Club for the Disabled (DCD), with the support of strategic partners the Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Center (HHC) and in collaboration with the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF), the General Authority for Youth and Sports Welfare (GAYSW), the Dubai Sports Council and the UAE Paralympic Committee.
Results: Thailand beat Great Britain beat 54-51, Japan beat Morocco 68-51, Saudi Arabia beat Kuwait 56-50, UAE beat Philippines 64-54.