Dubai: Turkey and Morocco will clash in the final of the 10th Fazza International Wheelchair Basketball Championship, to be held at the Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club in Al Mamzar on Thursday.
Turkey got past Thailand 67-51, while Morocco defeated Asian champions and pre-tournament favourites South Korea 53-45 in the two semi-finals to set up a meeting in Thursday’s final. South Korea and Thailand will battle it out to decide the third best team in the eight-team competition.
The tussle for supremacy between Turkey and Thailand went as close as it possibly could with Enes Bullut outscoring all with a game high 21 points even as Mucahit Gunaydin and Ali Kabakuleler lent excellent support with 18 and seven points respectively.
The two teams were tied 15-15 at the end of the opening period, but Turkey ran away in the second to go into the half-time with a huge 19-point cushion as they led 40-21. Thailand tried to fight their way back with their star performer Aekkasit Jumjarean topscoring with 16 points and Pongsakorn Sripirom added a dozen. But that was not enough for the Thais as Turkey kept things tight in the defence to come out easy winners. “Our goal was to make it to the final, and now that we have done this we plan to go all the way and win this trophy,” Turkey coach Mahmut Kemal Okur told Gulf News.
“This is our under-22 team and I can see many of them getting promoted into the senior national team due to the huge experience they are gaining. Our final target is to do well at the European Wheelchair Basketball Championships to be held in September,” he added.
The second semi-final too was a close affair with Morocco upsetting favourites South Korea. After leading 28-20 at half-time and then 41-30 at the end of the third period, Morocco suddenly saw South Korea fight back to draw 41-41 with 4.35 minutes gone into the final quarter. But the North Africans — who had surprisingly lost to Thailand a day earlier — did just enough to hold through for a 53-45 result to meet Turkey in the Thursday’s final.
Zouhair Challat was once again the prime performer for Morocco with a top score of 20 points including a triple, while Rida Maataoui played the perfect foil with a handy 19 points.
Thursday will see the third place play-off between South Korea and Thailand at 2pm, followed by the final between Morocco and Turkey at 4pm.