Wheelchair basketball team take hard-fought loss in opening game

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Wheelchair basketball team take hard-fought loss in opening game

Korea's Gim Dong-hyeon takes a shot against Spain in a Group A game in the men's wheelchair basketball competition at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics at Musashino Forest Sport Plaza in Tokyo on Wednesday. [REUTERS/YONHAP]

Korea's Gim Dong-hyeon takes a shot against Spain in a Group A game in the men's wheelchair basketball competition at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics at Musashino Forest Sport Plaza in Tokyo on Wednesday. [REUTERS/YONHAP]

 
The Korean wheelchair basketball team lost a hard-fought first game at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics 65-53 to Spain at Musashino Forest Sport Plaza on Wednesday evening.
 
Korea put up a good fight against the Rio 2016 Paralympic silver medalists, rallying in the second half of the game and coming within a few points of taking the lead before Spain finally pulled ahead again in the fourth quarter.
 
Spain took the first quarter 16-10, taking an early lead that Korea spent nearly two hours chipping away at. The second quarter was closer, at 15-14, putting the score at 31-24 at the halfway point.
 
Korea started the second half strong, taking the third quarter 16-12 to put Spain ahead by just a few points going into the fourth, 43-40.
 
Korea managed to get within two points of Spain, with the score at 46-44 with five minutes left on the clock, before the Rio silver medalist quickly pulled ahead with a flurry of free throws and a three pointer putting the score out of Korea's reach. 
 
Despite a last minute scramble, the damage was done and Spain held an insurmountable lead, taking the game 65-53. 
 
Spain was always going to be a tough opponent for Korea. While the European side took silver at the Rio Paralympics, Korea didn't even make it to the competition. 
 
Unlike other Paralympic sports, where athletes compete in different events based on impairment, wheelchair basketball teams are made up of players with a variety of physical impairments graded from 1.0 to 4.5, with 4.5 being the lowest level of impairment. The five players on the court at any time combined cannot be graded above 14.
 
Korea is in Group A at the Paralympics, alongside Spain, Canada, Colombia, Japan and Turkey. The team will next take on Turkey at 5 p.m. on Thursday.

BY JIM BULLEY [jim.bulley@joongang.co.kr]
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