Sheffield Steelers come fifth in wheelchair basketball European club competition

Sheffield Steelers claimed a respectable fifth spot at the Andre Vergawen Cup, the second highest tier of European club wheelchair basketball.

The South Yorkshire team hosted the tournament at the English Institute of Sport, where professional teams from all over Europe competed over the weekend.

Sheffield made a strong start to the tournament with a 76-40 win over German side Koln 99ers, before suffering consecutive defeats to the two eventual finalists Bilbao and Besiktas.

The difficulty of their group meant Steelers missed out on the semi finals and instead claimed victory over Turkish side Galatasaray for fifth place.

Ben Fox, who finished as Sheffield’s second highest scorer and joint top assist maker, felt a fifth place finish reflected the team’s realistic expectations before the tournament.

The 23-year-old said: “Considering how tough our group was I’m super pleased, we held our own against Bilbao and Besiktas but just ran out of steam at the end of games where they showed their composure.”

Ben Fox consults the referee after a foul.

James Macsorley, who top scored against finalists Besiktas, said: “I’m proud of the account we gave of ourselves on such a big stage, it’s proof we’re heading in the right direction.”

Despite losing to Besiktas by 2 points in the group stages, Bilbao took revenge in the final and lifted the Andre Vergawen Cup after a 71-67 victory.

Speaking on the champions, Ben Fox added: “Playing against them, they were a class team, never got rattled and I think they were the best team there by far.”

The focus for Steelers will now be on the domestic Premier League, which they ended top of this season, putting them in prime position for success in the playoffs at the end of May.