USA Wins Gold in Columbia, Qualifies for 2014 World Championships
Team cruises to victory against tough Argentina, sets the bar high for future competition
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – August 15, 2013. Team USA recently earned a gold medal finish at the IWBF America’s Cup in Bogota, Columbia. With the victory, USA clinched one of four qualifying bids to the men’s wheelchair basketball World Championships that will be held in Incheon, South Korea in July 2014. After going undefeated in pool play, USA handily defeated Argentina 67-36 in the gold medal game.
While the final score may indicate a wide margin of victory, Team USA went into the championship game expecting a tough battle, especially after Argentina had upset the reigning Paralympic gold medalists, Canada, in pool play. Team member Chris Kommer recalls, “The upset with Canada had our attention throughout the tournament and we had seen Argentina improve even more after that upset.”
But Team USA did not waiver from their goal, a gold medal finish, and stuck to their focused game plan. “All of these teams are capable of coming out and humbling us. After our large success in pool play, we never wanted to be complacent and experience that upset.”
An upset never came and Kommer attributes much of the team’s success in Bogota to a strategy of sound defense and a strong emphasis on team chemistry. While every team at the international level has a large amount of firepower, talent alone cannot win medals. Members of Team USA, however, have enthusiastically bought into the philosophy of team play and the importance of acting as an integral part of a greater system. It has certainly been a recipe of success thus far.
Part of this high level of success has come through the development of a newly formed USA Wheelchair Basketball High Performance Committee, an initiative in which the NWBA has been a key component. This committee is focused on providing its USA teams with the best opportunities for high-level success. Players are given the best coaching staff, athletic trainers, fitness programs and other multi-faceted levels of support that have proven to be invaluable.
The atmosphere of excellence has been the new precedent, and with this gold medal finish Team USA will get the chance to continue that excellence in the near future.