Aylesbury man Haj Bhania did the town proud as he led the GB mens wheelchair basketball team to a thrilling European Championship win.
Former Aylesbury Aces coach Bhania, who lives in Elm Farm, recently landed the sport’s top job and now one of its top prizes after he helped GB retain their Euro crown.
The final went right down to wire with a 59-57 victory over Turkey – silver medallists from 2009. The Turks provided a stern and physical test for Bhania’s men, but GB had just enough in the tank to edge their opponents to the cherished gold medal.
And head coach Bhania could not hide his delight.
“It’s fantastic to win gold!” he said.
“We are a great team, we played really well and Turkey gave us a big battle, they played brilliantly. I thought it was a great final with the two best teams,” he added.
The opening minutes of the game saw both teams struggle to find their touch as nerves were an obvious factor, with the score at 4-4 after four minutes. Turkey composed themselves first with Gezinci adding nine points, but then Ian Sagar’s two baskets just before the end of the first quarter ensured GB were only down by eight, 8-16. Popular coach Bhania changed his tactics and GB clawed back the deficit to level the score as they went into the break 26-26. GB then went ahead at the end of the third, 47-45 but Turkey regained the lead at the start of the fourth. It was thanks to a 6-0 run from GB, which gave them a five point cushion with seven minutes remaining, that proved decisive as Turkey scored eight unanswered soon after. Bhania made his final changes and they proved decisive as GB held on to retain their crown.