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Watford pair prepare to meet Germany in wheelchair basketball quarter-finals after Canada defeat
4:46pm Monday 3rd September 2012 in Sport
Watford's Helen Freeman and Sarah Grady will line-up against Beijing silver medallists Germany in the quarter-finals of the Paralympics women’s wheelchair basketball tournament tomorrow after losing their last group game to Canada at the North Greenwich Arena today.
The 67-50 loss is GB’s third and leaves them fourth in the group with one victory so far at London 2012.
Despite the defeat, coach Garry Peel praised the team’s “more relaxed” style of play and says they can now look forward to the knock-out stages with optimism.
“We were frightened and tense in the first couple of games which surprised me, but we performed much better since and now we are into the tournament the girls are much more relaxed,” he said.
“Once we had qualified for the quarter-finals the pressure was off. If we start tomorrow the same as we started today we will rattle our opponents like we did the Canadians today. We just didn’t have enough to see them off.”
Freeman, who like team-mate Grady is a former pupil of Rickmansworth School, was Britain's top scorer with 18 points.
“It was a good game to play in today,” said the 22 year old. “Canada are a tough team and we always enjoy playing them.
“It was a much better team performance, we had a few slip ups which allowed to them to break away but we know we can fix these going into the quarter-finals and it was an example of how we can play.”
The match started with Canada third in the table, one place above GB, who were looking for their second win after beating Brazil by five points on Saturday.
Canada are three-time Paralympic champions who four years ago failed to win a medal for the first time since 1988. But they won World Championship bronze in 2010 and presented another tough test for the GB side, who endured heavy defeats in their opening two games against the Netherlands and Australia.
Britain made a bright start, matching the Canadians throughout the early period before moving into a four-point lead thanks to Freeman and Amy Conroy. The Canadians responded strongly, scoring well from the field, but Britain ended the quarter ahead, 16-14.
Canada began to show their superiority in the second period, however, with Katie Hancock and Cindy Quellet finding their shooting range. They quickly moved into the lead and tightened their defence to cut Britain’s attacking options.
With Britain trailing by nine towards the end of the second period, Peel threw on Conroy and Caroline Maclean in an attempt to claw a few back before half-time. But the Canadians’ two big guns ended the half with 22 points between them and went into the break 34-25 ahead.
Freeman got Britain’s second half campaign underway with her fifth basket but Canada piled on another 21 points in the period to Britain’s 11 and went into the fourth quarter with a healthy 55-36 lead.
With Janet McLachlan grabbing 15 points and 15 rebounds, Canada's offence proved too strong in the final stages. They had built an unassailable 63-42 lead with five minutes left and though Britian came back at the they end Canada closed out the game, 67-50.
Despite the defeat, Maclean reinforced the positive assessment.
“Compared to the previous three games it was very much improved,” said the 37 year old. “We played well apart from a couple of lapses in concentration to let them get away.
“But we are pleased and Garry is happy that we seem to be coming together. It looks likely that we will play Germany in the quarter-finals now and we know we can beat them so anything can happen.”
Peel agreed: “We are a young, inexperienced team, learning as we go through tournament,” he said. “Nobody wants to play GB in the crossover stage as they know we can perform and produce when we want too.”