Great Britain women suffered their first defeat at the BT Paralympic World Cup as they were edged out 43-42 by Japan.
Britain had led almost the entire game, but after Mari Amimoto put Japan on top with three minutes to go, Britain missed a handful of chances to reply and went down to their first defeat.
The result means they must wait on the outcome of tonight’s match between Germany and Canada to see if they will play for gold or bronze in tomorrow’s finals.
‘It’s pretty frustrating,’ said Helen Freeman, who found herself on the losing team despite a haul of 16 points and 10 rebounds.
‘It was our mistakes at the end that cost us. We could have won with a few lay-ups.
‘We’ve shown our floor game is good, but we just need to finish it at the end to make the difference.’
The game was a tight contest from start to finish, but Britain had their noses in front most of the way.
The lead hovered around three for most of the first half as Britain failed to take chances to build their advantage, but nevertheless prevented Japan from cutting it.
Just before the interval they moved out to a six-point cushion, 26-20, on Caroline MacLean’s basket.
But they came out for the second half cold, and Japan – while missing plenty of shots of their own – eventually tied it at 26-26 on Tomoe Soeda’s basketball four minutes in.
Britain quickly pulled the lead back to six and had looked like building a comfortable advantage.
But turnovers were to prove their undoing in the second half and a quick steal by Japan gave Animoto – who finished with 22 points – an easy basket to start the third period and make it 36-33.
Another turnover then proved costly. After an impressive breakaway basket by Freeman put Britain in control, they immediately handed back the initiative with a sloppy turnover from Laurie Williams allowing Inoue to cut the gap to three, 42-39.
It proved the start of Britain’s undoing with Animoto cutting the gap to one with a long shot before putting the Japanese on top.
Britain still had chances, but Louise Sugden waited too long for support when in a good position, and Freeman lost the ball rushing a shot.
They came forward again in the final seconds but Freeman’s pass was cut out as Japan held on, handing Britain a first defeat after victories over Canada and Germany.
‘They caused us problems, they’re quick and they’ve got good outside shooters,’ Freeman added of the Japanese.
‘All the teams here have been good in different ways, but we just weren’t there at the end today.’
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