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After 28-year drought, U.S. wins back-to-back men’s wheelchair basketball golds

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games - Day Twelve

The USA basketball team celebrates gold at Ariake Arena during day twelve of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in Japan. Picture date: Sunday September 5, 2021. (Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)

PA Images via Getty Images

The U.S. men’s wheelchair basketball team went 28 years with no better than a bronze medal at the Paralympic Games and has now won consecutive gold medals on the sport’s biggest stage.

In the penultimate competition to end in Tokyo, the Americans were victorious over the host nation, 64-60, Sunday afternoon.

Japan secured its first men’s medal at the Paralympic Games or world championships in a well-fought final. Great Britain won the bronze-medal game, 68-58, over Spain for its second Paralympic bronze in a row.

Team captain Steve Serio notched 28 points to lead the game in scoring for just the second time this tournament. The New York native, who turns 34 in three days, now owns three medals from his four Paralympic appearances.

Reo Fujimoto opened scoring with a 3-pointer and Japan ran it to 8-0 before Serio got the Americans on the board. The first quarter ended at 18-18.

Jake Williams scored 13 seconds into the second and the Americans continued to improve to 26-20, ending with a 32-27 lead at the half.

Japan eventually gained back control, 41-39 with 3:51 remaining in the third, and held it to close that period at 46-45.

Serio and Trevon Jenifer helped tie it at 50, but Hiroaki Kozai and Renshi Chokai would bring the host’s lead to 56-51. Jenifer, Brian Bell and Williams responded to get ahead with four and a half to go and remained atop through the clock.

The U.S. men have now won 14 Paralympic medals in wheelchair basketball, including at the last three Games. Though they have been successful on that stage as of late, the Americans have not won a world title since 2002.

Leading into the gold-medal game, 36-year-old five-time Paralympian Matt Scott was selected as the U.S. flag bearer for the Closing Ceremony.

The U.S. women ended their Tokyo tournament with bronze on Saturday, defeating Germany 64-51. The Netherlands won its first gold, 50-31 over first-time medalist China.

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