(TORONTO, ONT.) Momentum is growing for the Canadian Parapan Am Men’s and Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Teams who clinched first place in their respective pools Tuesday with clutch wins at the Ryerson Athletic Centre. The Canadian women routed Brazil while the men hung on to narrowly trump Argentina. Both teams remain undefeated heading into the playoff rounds.
CANADIAN WOMEN CRUISE PAST BRAZIL
The Canadian Parapan Am Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team emerged from round robin play unscathed with a spotless 3-0 record following a lopsided defeat of Brazil 82-51. With the win Canada locked up first place in group A and advances to the semifinals on Thursday where they will take on Argentina.
The crafty Canucks utilized their sneaky speed and shrewd ball movement with great success all night allowing them to repeatedly penetrate Brazil’s defence. Notably they scored the majority of their points (54) from the paint.
“[Our game plan was] to come out strong. We knew they were going to be really fast, so we wanted to stop their chairs and try to go to the basket. And that’s what we did,” said Team Canada’s Cindy Ouellet, of Quebec, Que.
Janet McLachlan, of Vancouver, B.C., led the way for Canada under the rim with a monstrous 28 points, 17 rebounds, and 5 assists, all game highs. ?She credited the passionate crowd in attendance for helping boost Team Canada to victory.
“It’s so amazing playing in front of Canadian fans. You can really feel the energy on the floor. It helps you get through the times that aren’t going well on the court. How can you not get pumped up,” said McLachlan.
— Janet McLachlan (@bigsexxxy5) August 11, 2015
Ouellet and Katie Harnock, of Elmira Ont., were both offensive catalysts as well. Ouellet put up 16 points and dished the ball well with 5 assists, while Harnock finished with 15 points and 4 assists. Canada held the lead throughout the match and didn’t allow Brazil to pot their first basket until six and a half minutes into the game. ?By that point they held a comfy 18-point cushion. Later on Canada was able to weather the storm when Brazil managed to temporarily wrestle back some of the momentum by going on an eight-point run in the second quarter.
“We’ve been training the past year,?really hard, so we prepared for this. We have been working together really hard as a team, working together as one unit. So we expect to come out very strongly,” said Melanie Hawtin of Oakville, Ont.
CANADIAN MEN BATTLE THROUGH ADVERSITY AGAINST ARGENTINA
In what proved to be their toughest matchup of the tournament to date, the Canadian Parapan Am Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team grappled their way to a 68-62 victoria over a gritty Argentinian Team.? With a tidy 3-0 record, the Canadian Men claim top spot in Group B and will now play a quarterfinal crossover match against Puerto Rico on Wednesday August 12.
“It was a gritty game. But we pushed through it. I think we had?great composure,” said Team Canada’s David Eng of Montreal, Que.
The first half of the game was a seesaw battle that saw the teams exchange leads nine times. Heading into the break Canada was trailing by a single marker 30-29.
“We know there are going to be a lot of close games at half, and we know that we have to grind it out for the full 40 minutes. If we do that I don’t think there are a lot of teams that can stick with us for that long,” said Team Canada’s Chad Jassman, of Calgary, Alta.
Jassman had a strong performance and was noticeably involved in the plays under the rim where he could be seen battling the opponent’s bigger players. His hard work paid off on the stat sheet as he collected six rebounds and ten points on the night.
“They have a height factor that we don’t.?We’re fast and we’re athletic. But height does not get tired at the end of a game,” said Eng.
Canada cued up some offensive punch courtesy of a few of their big guns in the second half. Nik Goncin, of Regina, Sask., and Eng, of Montreal, Que., were amongst the feisty Canucks who were firing bullets in the second half.
Goncin, pulled the trigger on a pair of clutch three-pointers to help Canada establish a seven-point lead in the third quarter, the teams largest of the game. All in all he tallied 18 points and 12 rebounds, good enough for his second double-double of the tournament. Eng finished with a robust 16 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.
To their credit Argentina did not back down and refused to make things easy for the Canadians. A three-pointer with just over 23 seconds on the clock made things interesting and brought Argentina with three points (65-62), but foul trouble would catch up to them late in the game when they sent Canada to the charity strip three times in the final minute.? Goncin and Bo Hedges, of Wonowon, B.C., made good on the opportunity and helped Canada pad their lead.
“We are going to have a lot hard games coming up. So this game was a really good experience. It’s good practice for us on how to run end game situations and play smart,” added Jassman.
— Nik Goncin (@goncin) August 12, 2015
Team Canada – Schedule & Results
Day 1 – Saturday August 8
Canada (women) 78 vs. Guatemala 18
Canada (men) 102 vs. Venezuela 27
Day 2 – Sunday August 9
Canada (women) 80 vs. Mexico 39
Day 3 – Monday August 10
Canada (men) 74 vs. Mexico 55
Day 4 – Tuesday August 11
Canada (women) 82 vs. Brazil 51
Canada (men) 68 vs. Argentina 62
Day 5 – Wednesday August 12
Canada (men) vs. Puerto Rico @ 18:30
Day 6 – Thursday August 13
Canada (women) vs. Argentina @ tbd
Day 7 – Friday August 14
Women’s bronze medal game @ 16:30 ET
Women’s gold medal game @ 18:45 ET
Day 8 – Saturday August 15
Men’s bronze medal game @ 08:30 ET
Men’s gold medal game @ 11:00 ET
Don’t Miss A Second of the Action
Get social with Wheelchair Basketball Canada (@WCBballCanada) by using the hashtags #OneTeam #OneGoal to join the conversation and follow the Canadian Parapan Am Wheelchair Basketball Team Canada as they push for the podium and the chance to qualify for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games!
Fans can also follow the entire Canadian Paralympic Team (@CDNParalympics) as Team Canada competes on home soil or by using the hashtag #paratough.
All wheelchair basketball games are webcast live by CBC at www.cbc.ca/sports/parapanam