Breathless. Absolutely breathless.
That’s how everyone was left feeling after one of the best advertisements you could see for 3×3 basketball.
It was the type of finish that keeps your heart racing long after the full-time siren has gone.
England’s men rode an incredible wave of home crowd support to beat Australia in overtime, 17-16.
Australia’s men claim wheelchair basketball gold
The four gold medal matches played out in fast and furious fashion at Smithfield, and Australia’s 3×3 men’s wheelchair basketball team started off with a tense match against Canada.
A day after shooting a two-pointer in overtime to beat England in the semis, youngster Lachlin Dalton was again on form to help the Australians to an 11-9 win.
“It’s been a bit surreal coming out playing well for the country and just to help be part of a gold medal, the first of its kind, there’s just something special,” Dalton said.
“To come out and play like we did, have the camaraderie that we did all week, it’s definitely been my favourite week away.”
‘I am Birmingham’: Local hero leads physical fight
In the men’s decider, it was a street ball shootout of the highest quality.
After an intense, physical showdown, where both sides racked up the fouls, it went to overtime where the first team to score two points would win.
After Australia scored first, Birmingham’s own Myles Hesson got himself in two-point range, and swoosh, the capacity crowd exploded.
“I have played basketball in every corner of Birmingham,” Hesson said.
“This is where I used to catch the bus, just here. This is where I went to the markets with my gran. I am from Birmingham. I am Birmingham.”
“I don’t know how they all got tickets, but there a lot of people in this stadium rooting for me. I could hear every last one of them.”
Australia’s Greg Hire, meanwhile, said he was proud of the way the Australian team had fought out the match.
“To go down in a game winning shot to a super talented side in front of the home crowd, I’m immensely proud,” Hire said.
“But [it’s a] pretty tough feeling right now.”
“It’s just a privilege to play in front of a crowd like that,” Jesse Wagstaff added.
“Birmingham’s done a great job of putting on a fantastic show.”
Hire played the match with a torn groin and was the ultimate street-fighter, scrapping and jostling, and attracting plenty of attention from the referees — Australia ended up with 11 team fouls and England nine.
“That’s the reason why we love it right? It’s not traditional five and five, and it is tough,” Hire said.
“Obviously the refs swallowed their whistle towards the end of the game, which is a shame, but that’s the style, that’s 3×3 basketball. I think that’s why it’s a sport that as you can see, everyone loves.”
After making its debut at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, Hire, one of Australia’s most experienced players in the short format, says he’s retiring from international competition, and wants to see more investment in it.
“We don’t get paid to play 3×3, we don’t get per diem like the Boomers. You’re doing for the love of the game and for the love of the country,” he said.
“What we’re seeing is the first step. In the past, and no disrespect to the players that played before us, but it’s guys that specialise in 3×3.
“We need to put some respect, raise the profile. Hopefully those NBL guys that aren’t in the Boomers will play for us.”
Women’s teams win minor medals
The women’s wheelchair team couldn’t bring its best against Canada, going down 14-5.
“A silver medal is a bit bittersweet, but I’m so proud of our girls,” Australia’s Ella Sabljak said.
“We’ve come from literally nothing, we’ve had no expectations, and that was probably our worst game we played the entire tournament, so I know we’re better than that.”
Australia’s women beat New Zealand 15-13 to win the bronze medal, and Canada’s women downed England 14-13 to claim gold.