Matt Scott controls the ball during the men's preliminary round group B match against Germany at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 26, 2021 in Tokyo.
The U.S. men’s wheelchair basketball team has officially taken the next step in its defense of the Paralympic gold medal.
The 2016 champions closed out pool play on Monday with a 4-1 record and are set to face Turkey in a quarterfinal matchup on Wednesday.
“Turkey is a good team and I know they’ve got a guy like (Ozgur) Gurbulak, who is a great scorer,” said Joshua Turek, one of eight U.S. players back from that 2016 gold-medal winning team. “You can’t take anyone for granted, especially at this part of the tournament, but I can promise you we’ll be locked in and ready to go.”
The U.S. ranked second behind defending world champions Great Britain in Group B with matching 4-1 records. Turkey comes in with a 3-2 record in Group A behind Spain and Japan.
It wasn’t an easy start to the tournament, particularly coming off two years with so little opportunity to play in the lead up to the Paralympics.
The U.S. defeated Germany 58-55 in the opening game last Thursday, but the Germans didn't make it easy.
Germany led 16-10 after the first quarter and the game was tied going into the fourth. With 22 seconds remaining Brian Bell scored to give the U.S. a 56-53 lead, but Germany closed to within one point with 18 to go. Turek’s free throws with 17 seconds remaining proved clutch as the U.S. held on for the victory. Bell finished with 20 points, half of them in the fourth quarter.