Trevon Jenifer looks to pass the ball at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Sept. 1, 2021 in Tokyo.
Trailing by as many as nine points early in the second quarter, the defending Paralympic champion U.S. men’s wheelchair basketball team roared back to defeat Turkey 52-45 Wednesday in quarterfinal round play at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
The U.S. moves on to face Spain on Friday in the semifinals back at Ariake Arena. Spain beat Germany 71-68 in the quarterfinals.
The Americans fell behind 20-11 when Ugur Toprak scored with 9:45 left in the first half, but the U.S. hung around and grabbed a 25-24 lead with 1:34 remaining before intermission as a Matt Scott basketball finished an 8-0 surge.
“We know that Turkey’s a really good team and they were going to bring it for 40 minutes,” said Steve Serio, the U.S. captain. “Our mentality from the very beginning is you want to come out with a little urgency. We definitely had some things that we can improve on, especially in the start.”
Down 26-25 at halftime, the U.S. came back again in the third quarter. Serio scored with 2:10 left in the quarter to put the U.S. up 35-30. It was a lead the Americans would never relinquish.
As they are so often, turnovers were a deciding factor in the game. The U.S. enjoyed a 17-4 advantage in that category and capitalized with a 14-2 scoring margin there.
The U.S. had a cold night from the floor, shooting just 38 percent. But the American bench outscored the Turkish substitutes 23-6.
“We know that our strength is in our numbers, in our 12 guys,” Serio said. “The goal was to play this team a tough 40 minutes, and we definitely did that today.”