12th March, 2012
Mexico beat South Africa in a best-of-three series to deny Africa its maiden ticket and the last available place in this summer’s Paralympic Games in London.
The Mexican women took the series opener 69-32 and then clinched the series with a 66-27 win to secure their trip in front of their home fans.
With Floralia Estrada, Anaisa Perez and Rosa Vera taking care of the scoring early on, the home side took a 20-5 lead in the first quarter of the second game and they never looked back
Speaking after the game, the South African coach, Willie Mulder, pointed to the experience of challenging for a place in the Paralympics as a huge asset for his players and hopes that the sport as a whole can grow on the African continent.
“It was very important for our women’s programme to get a chance to play in a qualification tournament,” he said.
“I want to thank Mexico for recognising that they were much stronger and allowing the games to be played in such a nice and fair way.
“Now we have to go back home and get more countries supporting their women’s programmes in Africa so our zone can improve.”
Mexico coach, Pablo Larraga, was pleased with his team’s qualification for the Olympics and already looked ahead to what now awaits his team.
“It is nice to have the final spot for London but we will need to work very hard now to do well,” he warned.
“These games allowed us to play all our players and give them game experience for the future.”
Maureen Orchard, President of the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF), congratulated the Mexicans for their much-deserved place in the Paralympics.
“I was pleased for Mexico as they worked hard for their right to go to London, finishing fourth at home in Guadalajara and then needing to defend that victory against South Africa,” she said.
Orchard joined Mulder in paying tribute to the hosts for their sportsmanship and fairplay.
“What I liked most about these games is the true sense of wanting to share the experience with South Africa and not bury them,” she added.
“Mexico can be very pleased with their representatives as can South Africa.
“Women’s wheelchair basketball is alive and well and will only get better.”
Mexico join Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands and the USA in the 10-team Paralympic Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Tournament that will be played from 30 August to 8 September.