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Watford's Helen Freeman thanks London crowd after Paralympics GB claim first wheelchair basketball win
Helen Freeman paid tribute to the London crowd after Paralympics GB's wheelchair basketball team came from behind to boost their hopes of a quarter-final place with a battling 42-37 victory over Brazil today.
Following heavy defeats against the Dutch (62-35) and Australia (51-24), Britain needed a first win to realistically keep alive their hopes of a last-eight place. But in what was a close contest throughout, the host nation found themselves trailing 31-27 at the end of the third ten-minute quarter.
But with Watford-born Freeman pulling the strings and scoring five of her nine points in the last quarter, Britain produced a find turnaround in front of a vocal Basketball Arena crowd to give them some much-needed momentum, and a confidence boost, going into Monday's final Group A preliminary round game against Canada.
"We knew it was going to go right down to the wire, we just needed to hold in there and use our experience and pull out the win in the end game," said Freeman who, like team-mate Sarah Grady, is a former Rickmansworth School pupil.
Asked about the turnaround in the final quarter, the University of Illinois student said: "Fifteen points in this game is nothing so we knew that the score could turn around easily, we just had to keep believing in it and working a lot on our sports psychology and staying positive, positive body language and it really showed today."
Britain had plenty of opportunities to score more points in the first three-quarters of the match and were particularly wasteful from the free throw line, converting only one of their first 11 attempts. But the 22-year-old was philosophical and said: "Sometimes that's just the way it goes, shots don't fall but you've got to focus on your defence and eventually the shots will fall."
Britain return to the North Greenwich Arena and the Beijing Paralympian is confident her side can build on their opening win, explaining: "We're feeling great going towards Canada, the last game we played we lost by eight per cent to them. That's nothing. We can easily overcome that and we've got a few more things that we can bring out of the bag for against them."
Reflecting on her Games so far, Freeman added: "It's a great experience. You can never quite imagine how good the crowd would be. Today they definitely lifted us and pulled us the whole way through."