With a final four that mirrored the Orlando 2016 Invictus Games, Denmark, Netherlands, the United Kingdom and United States entered the court at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre to a roaring, sold-out crowd on Saturday. On the last day of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017, wheelchair basketball medals were up for grabs, and all four teams were in it for gold.
Netherlands vs. United Kingdom
The DJ got the crowd rocking at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre Saturday morning for the semifinals of wheelchair basketball, with Team UK taking on Team Netherlands.
The Dutch drew first blood, launching a three-pointer and ruining the UK’s first possession with a steal, all in the first 35 seconds of the match. Team UK, defensive bulldogs in every game they’ve contested, struggled early on against the speedy, quick-passing Team Netherlands.
Ronald van Dort intercepted a British pass and quickly got teammate Walter Groen the ball for an easy basket in the first quarter. Van Dort continued to find the net, and Team UK found themselves in an early 10–0 deficit.
The Brits continued to drive the basket throughout the game, expertly drawing fouls, but repeatedly failed to sink their free throws until Dan Gill put one down with a little over five minutes left in the game.
Netherlands advanced to the gold-medal match with a 34–16 win over Team UK.
United States vs. Denmark
The battle of wheelchair powerhouses took over Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre as Team USA battled Team Denmark for a chance to face Team Netherlands in the gold-medal final.
Brian Williams pulled down a rebound and put the US on the board almost immediately after the opening tipoff. Maurice Manuel on Team Denmark, who lost the opening tipoff, redeemed himself shortly after by drawing a foul on the ensuing rush. He converted both free throws, but Team US responded with three fast breaks and began to pull away.
Chants of “U-S-A” continued to emanate from the crowd as the Americans on the court were all business to the final buzzer. They headed to the gold-medal match and faced Team Netherlands, with a 42–17 win over Team Denmark.
Bronze-medal match: United Kingdom vs. Denmark
Team UK and Team Denmark took to the court on Saturday afternoon at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre, competing for the last bronze medal to be awarded at the 2017 Invictus Games.
Tight defensive play prevented either team from taking an early lead in the match. Denmark’s active hands in their zone resulted in botched UK passes, and both teams got into foul trouble in the first half.
Jakob Hou Larsen of Team Denmark had the crowd going with a huge block on an attempted pass by Team UK’s Michael Mellon with 30 seconds left in the half. No harm done, though, as both competitors laughed and shook hands.
The UK lead into the half with a 12-point spread over the Danes.
Team Denmark tried to push back in the third-quarter, getting several interceptions, but UK’s stellar defensive plays made it difficult. Team UK created traffic wherever they could and played tight defense.
As the seconds wound down, UK maintained tight possession of the ball, resulting in few scoring opportunities for the Danes. Team UK defeated Team Denmark 25–14 to claim the bronze medal.