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Paralympic sports - 07. September 2008.

Battling Britain lose tough opener

It was tough going for Britain’s women in their opening wheelchair basketball match against Athens silver medallists Australia at the University of Science and Technology Beijing Gymnasium.

Despite a battling performance Britain lost 59-30 to their strong opponents as Cobi Crispin fired in 16 points for the Australians.

paralympics beijing Battling Britain lose tough opener
photo John Coxon

Australia came out all guns blazing in the opening quarter, going nine-nil up within a minute, and they held a 22-point lead by the end of the first period. The GB side rallied in the second to restrict the deficit to 17 by half time.

But with Crispin in fine form for the Australians, Britain were always playing catch-up.

After sinking only four points in the third quarter, they found some rhythm in the final period and fought back to outscore their opponents 13-11, keeping the final deficit below 30.

“We knew Australia would press in the first 40 minutes and they did,“ reflected head coach Garry Peel.

“The Aussies were just too strong for us in that first period and we had to change things around. Once we got into the rhythm we gave them a decent game.”

Forward Sally Wager, Britain’s joint top scorer with five points, also put a brave face on the result.

“In a way it was a shame we had to play Australia first,” said the 26-year-old from Kettering. “It would have been good to have got into the tournament a bit more first.

“When we play well they’re definitely beatable. We couldn’t have tried any harder as a team but today they were just better.”

Britain now have two days to regroup before their next fixture against Brazil on Tuesday (9 September).

“The next game is crucial,” said Peel. “We have to win that one. If we play against them the way we played in the second half today then we’ll be OK.

“We know we have a tough pool. We’ve got three of the world’s top four in with us and as Australia proved they are very quick and very hard.”

After a day’s rest, Britain play Brazil on Tuesday, USA on Wednesday and Germany on Thursday.

“We need to go back to training, then look forward, hopefully with a bit more focus,” said Wager.
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