Despite an intense preparation program leading up to the 2020 IWBF Afro Paralympic Qualifiers and the return of a few seasoned and experienced player in Richard Nortje and Marcus Retief, the 2020 South African Senior Men’s National Wheelchair Basketball team failed in their quest to qualify for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
The tournament, being held on home soil, at the Vodacom Mandeville Indoor Sport Center in Johannesburg from 1-8 March 2020, started of very well though, with the Amawheelaboys strolling to a comfortable opening win against Egypt.
In their second game the South African’s took on the more fancied Algeria outfit who were expected to win this encounter, but the Amawheelaboys played with heart and determination and saw off the Algerians in the game of the tournament, winning after double overtime.
The wheels came off for South Africa in the third match up against defending Africa Champions Morocco, who outplayed the men in green and gold and inflicted South Africa’s first defeat in the the tournament.
The next match saw the same two teams match up in the Semi-Finals, and despite a spirited effort form the SA team, Morocco prevailed to move into the Final against Algeria.
In the Bronze Final South Africa took on Egypt, who they had convincingly beat in the opening game of the tournament. All seemed to be going to plan at the half time break with the Amawheelaboys holding a convincing 16-point lead. Instead of driving home that advantage the South Africans opted to push the self-destruct button and allowed Egypt to claw their way back and ultimately, they surrendered limply to lose in overtime and claim the wooden spoon prize of fourth place!
Its back to the drawing board for South Africa, as the focus now shifts to qualification for the 2022 World Championships in Dubai.