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US hoopsters simply the best

American women hoopsters showed why they are the best in the world, beating Germany 50-38 at the National Indoor Stadium on Monday and retaining their Paralympic title.

It was the first medal for Germany in women`s wheelchair basketball since Seoul 1988.

The US team reached the final with straight wins, including a 42-38 victory over Germany in their Group A preliminary, while its opponent beat the Netherlands in the quarterfinals and Japan in the semifinals en route to the gold medal match.

Stephanie Wheeler (No 10) of the US tries to shoot during the wheelchair basketball final on Monday, which Germany lost 38-50. [China Daily]

Last night, the Americans played a little tight at the start of the game, missing a series of scoring opportunities and trailing 9-12 after the first quarter.

But the champion team soon found its rhythm to lead 23-16 at the end of the second quarter. Consistent scoring extended their score to 39-29 in the third.

The Germans fought hard in the last quarter to narrow the margin by five points but after they missed several scoring shots, the US finally wrapped up the game 50-38.

Christina Ripp scored a game high 16 points for the US team while German Marina Mohnen notched up 13 points and 13 rebounds.

"Both played very hard, we were just more fortunate tonight. Defense is our key to success. Germany has very good shooters and today we tried to hold them out," US coach Ronald Lykins said after the final.

German coach Ingo Holger Glinicki said he enjoyed facing with the top team in the world.

"I am happy with the silver medal. The US team is the best in the world and they have a very good defense. We won the European Championships but for me, it`s more fun to play against the best teams in the world, such as Canada and the US," he said.

In the earlier bronze medal match, Australia - silver medalist in Athens - outplayed Japan 53-47 despite 21 turnovers and a flurry of missed scoring opportunities in the fourth quarter.

Forward Liesl Tesch contributed 16 points and 14 rebounds for Australia, while Japanese Mari Amimoto shot a game high 18 points.

Canada finished fifth, followed by the Netherlands, China and Great Britain. The host achieved its best results at the Paralympics after beating Great Britain 57-38 in the play-off game for the 7th-8th places.

"Our team played to our potential this game, both in technique and strategy. This is a new team and sometimes we are used to losing rather than winning. When we were in the lead, the players were not used to it," Chinese coach Liu Tiehua said after yesterday`s match.

Today will the see a duel between Canada and Australia in the men`s final, and USA will take on Great Britain in the bronze medal match. Defending Paralympic and reigning world champion Canada enters the final unbeaten. Australia won silver at the 2004 Athens Games.

Wheelchair basketball originated as a rehabilitation method for injured World War II veterans in the United States back in 1946. There are only a few differences between wheelchair basketball and basketball in rules and regulations - the major distinction involves the use of a wheelchair, which athletes have to use with dexterity.

Participants are men and women with spinal-cord injuries, amputations, cerebral palsy or other physical disabilities.

It has developed rapidly throughout the globe in more than 85 countries and regions and has been a full medal sport since the first Paralympic Games in Rome.

Date:2008-9-16 10:23:00     
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