On the penultimate day of the 2015 European Wheelchair Basketball Championships, the last game saw Spain overcome Italy by 86 to 55 in a fierce 5th/6th play off game: the teams not only battling for a top five finish but the continent’s final qualifying place at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
It was the defending bronze medallists from Spain who were first on the scoreboard, Jordi Ruiz Jordan roaring into action with a stunning three point shot. With Italy’s shots just not dropping, Spain then pushed ahead to an 8-2 lead as Ruiz Jordan sunk his second three within two minutes. M Bernardis then hit back with two consecutive baskets to put Italy back within two points (6-8), but an impressive performance by Spain at both ends of the court saw them close out the quarter by 22-16.
The start of the second quarter once again saw Italy creating opportunities, but their shots wouldn’t fall; Spain, however, continued to push ahead – piling on the offensive pressure to gain some breathing space with a 41-22 lead at half time.
Returning to court, Spain came out firing in the third quarter – extending their lead to 48-22 with just over a minute played. Italy continued to battle hard, but with just 10 minutes left on the clock it was the Spanish Men’s Team who held a 65-37 advantage.
Italy hit back at the start of the final 10 minutes: Filippo Carossino and Fabio Raimondi with the opening four points of the quarter. Indeed, there was very little separating the two teams in the final 10 minutes - Spain edging it by 21-18 to seal a 86-55 victory, fifth place, and Europe's final place at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
On qualifying for Rio, Spain Men's Head Coach Jose Artacho said: "I don't know what to say! We've worked very hard to get here: the tournament has been hard for the team. I'm very happy now; I'm very proud of my team - all the players and the staff - they deserve this."