Champions Cup 2023
Albacete defeated Germany’s RSB Thuringia Bulls, 77-73 in what was an epic clash for the ages. It surpassed the hype it got for being dubbed ‘the biggest game in Europe.’ The Spanish side came out all guns blazing in the first quarter. The likes of Welshman Phil Pratt consistently banked shots in off the glass to help his team gain a 9-point lead in the first 10 minutes, 25-16.
The second quarter was truly a back-and-forth affair with fast-paced offences on both ends of the floor. Bulls’ Jordi Ruiz hit a thunderous 3-pointer to tie up the game at 40-apiece with 2 minutes to go in the quarter. Quick scores from Pratt and Ben Fox ensured Albacete had a 4-point lead going into the half, despite Bulls winning that quarter, 26-21.
In the third, Albacete continued to plough on ahead and extend their lead. Around the halfway point of the quarter Bulls’ captain, Alex Halouski picked up his fourth foul and was subbed out for a few minutes, this proved crucial for Albacete. At the end of this period, they had an 11-point advantage, 62-51. Winning the quarter, 16-9.
The fourth and final quarter was just as spectacular. Bulls began their comeback with under 5 minutes to go courtesy of Halouski, Jocke Linden and Karlis Podnieks. Bulls’ momentum was boosted when Albacete captain, Lee Manning was fouled out the game with 3 minutes to go. Tensions reached an all-time high with under 2 minutes left on the clock, when Podnieks scored a layup under pressure to make it a 2-point game. Further buckets from Linden, Mateusz Filipski and Harry Brown kept the intensity up. Even though the Bulls won the quarter 22-16 it was not enough for the German side. Both Pratt and Filipski iced free throws to guarantee Albacete a second consecutive Champions Cup victory, 77-73.
Pratt achieved a double-double in the final with 25 points and 12 assists. Closely followed by Filipski with 24 points and 5 rebounds. Meanwhile for the Bulls, Halouski had 22 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists.
CD Ilunion from Spain also beat RSV Lahn-Dill from Germany, 73-71 to claim 3rd place. Lahn-Dill started off strong, having a 15-point lead at the end of the first, 23-8. However, Ilunion clawed their way back throughout the remaining 3 quarters. By halftime the Madrid side had reduced their deficit to 10, then to 4 by the end of the third. The two teams traded shots constantly in the fourth, with the game being tied with just over 2 minutes to go. Ilunion veteran, Terry Bywater put them up by 4 with 22 seconds left until Lahn-Dill’s Reo Fujimoto replied with a 3-pointer to make it a 1-point game. Matthias Güntner committed a foul on Gregg Warburton with 6 seconds left. Warburton made a free throw to secure Ilunion the 2-point victory.
6-time Paralympian, Bywater ended the game with 31 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists. Whilst both Güntner and Fujimoto had a big game for their side. Güntner with a double-double of 27 points and 12 rebounds and Fujimoto with 22 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists.
Champions: BSR AMIAB Albacete (ESP)
2nd: RSB Thuringia Bulls (GER)
3rd: CD Ilunion (ESP)
4th: RSV Lahn-Dill (GER)
The All-Star 5 for the tournament was as follows:
Tommy BÖHME | 3.0 | Lahn-Dill | Bayreuth
Gregg WARBURTON | 2.0 | Ilunion | Leigh
Charlotte MOORE | 1.0 | Albacete | Coventry
Jordi RUIZ | 2.5 | Bulls | Barcelona
Alex HALOUSKI | 4.5 | Bulls | Erfurt via Belarus
Between the games on Saturday the draw for the the groups for the 2023 European Championships took place in Bemmel. With BEN director Toine Klerks leading the draw.
Group A: The Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, and Latvia
Group B: Great Britain, Italy, France, Austria, Israel, and Turkey
The Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Great Britain, France, and Turkey
Full Schedule of the European Championship: Wheelchair Basketball – European Para Championships
We hope to see you in Rotterdam this August!
Text: Dylan Cummings
Photo’s: Steffie Wunderl
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