U.S. men win first wheelchair basketball medal since 2000

By Nick Kiger | Sept. 08, 2012, 4 p.m. (ET)

LONDON - The U.S. Paralympic Men's Wheelchair Basketball Team secured its first medal since 2000 tonight after defeating Great Britain 61-46 in the bronze medal game at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. The game was a rematch of the 2008 Paralympic bronze medal game that was won by Great Britain.

The U.S. set the tone early in the game, controlling the pace of play throughout the night and giving Great Britain fits with its aggressive defense.   

The American’s came out strong in the first quarter, holding the British without a bucket until the 5:40 mark in the quarter and allowed Great Britain just 10 points in the quarter. Steven Serio’s (Westbury, N.Y.) eight points in the first quarter helped give the Americans a seven point lead after the first, 17-10.  

Led by big man Joe Chambers (Davis, Calif.) in the second quarter, the U.S was able to build on its lead.

After being held scoreless in the first, Chambers (Davis, Calif.) came alive in the second, scoring 10 of the team’s 12 points in the quarter and Chambers pulling down seven boards as the U.S. extended its lead to nine at the half, 29-20.

Head coach Jim Glatch was pleased with his team’s play overall in the first half and was quick to point out the difference Chambers made.

“Chambers is a beast, if you can stop Joe Chambers I want to know who you are because he can go wherever he wants, however he wants. He definitely showed the versatility of our team tonight,” said Glatch.

The U.S. domination was slowed significantly in the third quarter however as Great Britain quickly shot itself into the game while the U.S. struggled from the field.

The British opened the second half on a 9– 0 run and held the U.S. scoreless for the first 6:30 of the third quarter to erase the Americans lead and tie the game at 29. The game was tied two more times in the quarter before an 8-2 run by the U.S. late in the quarter gave them the lead 39-33 heading into the final period.

Glatch was not surprised by the British run.

“The third quarter was Great Britain’s quarter. They are a great team and we knew on their home court that they were not going to just give in and they came at us, I give them all the credit,” said Glatch.

Despite good shooting and a final push by Great Britain in the fourth quarter, the U.S. always had an answer, holding onto its lead and eventually winning the game 61-46.

The U.S. shot 44 percent on 27-for-61 from the field tonight and were led in scoring by Serio who finished with 20 points on a phenomenal eight-for-nine shooting (89 percent).

After the game, Serio quickly deflected the spotlight from himself, instead crediting his teammates for his big night.

“It was a great team victory and any time you have a great individual performance like this its only because your teammates are working hard for you and that’s what they did,” said Serio, who also celebrated his 25th birthday today. “When you are playing out there you can shoot well, but it’s only because they are doing the right thing.”

For the Americans, coming away with a medal is incredibly special, but defeating Great Britain, the team who beat them in the same game four years ago, makes the win extra special.

“I wouldn’t want any other team in this game tonight, especially on their home turf,” said Chambers. “There is nobody I would have rather beat tonight than Great Britain.”