The NWBA announced Wednesday the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team that is highlighted by six returning athletes from the London 2012 Paralympic Games that won a bronze medal, and eight athletes from the silver-medal winning 2014 World Championships. The team was selected by the National Wheelchair Basketball Association Men’s Player Selection Committee and is pending final approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee and U.S. Paralympics.
Mike Paye of Macomb, Michigan, and Steve Serio of Westbury, New York, the two captains of the gold-medal winning 2015 Parapan Am Games Team, lead the roster of 12 athletes and will be playing in their third Paralympic Games. They played together on three consecutive World Championship teams (2006, 2010, 2014), and were together again at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics where the U.S. finished fourth. Paye was a member of the Athens 2004 Paralympic Team, and Serio helped lead the United States’ bronze-medal performance at the London 2012 Paralympics.
Also making a fourth consecutive Paralympic Games appearance will be Matt Scott of Southfield, Mich., who also was a member of the 2006, 2010 and 2014 U.S. World Championship teams.
“The selection of the U.S. men’s team was a challenging decision for head coach Ron Lykins and the selection committee, as all of the athletes are extremely talented and deserving of selection,” said Jim Scherr, NWBA Executive Director. “The mixture of veteran talent from prior Paralympics and World Championships, and an emerging group of youth players provided us a deep pool of elite athletes to draw from that will provide our best opportunity for success in Rio. This team is built on depth, and provides our coaching staff an ability to establish numerous lineups as we enter the final preparations into Rio in September.”
Two-time U.S. Paralympian Josh Turek of Council Bluffs, Iowa, will make a third Games appearance in Rio. Turek, a member of the 2014 U.S. World Championship squad that won a silver medal, first played on the big stage in 2004 and again in 2012. Ian Lynch of Bellevue, Kentucky, Nate Hinze of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and Trevon Jenifer of Edinboro, Pennsylvania, will make their second U.S. Paralympic squad after winning bronze at the London 2012 Paralympics.
John Gilbert of Salisbury, Missouri, and Aaron Gouge of Grand Prairie, Texas, who played on both the 2014 World Championship and 2015 Parapan Am Games teams, will see action in their first Paralympic Games. Also making their first U.S. Paralympic Team are three standouts who helped the U.S. to the gold medal at the 2015 Parapan Am Games in Toronto: Jared Arambula of Valparaiso, Indiana; Brian Bell of Forest Park, Illinois; and Jake Williams of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“This was an extremely difficult process to select 12 athletes from a group of incredibly talented elite athletes,” said U.S. Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team Head Coach Ron Lykins, who also coached the U.S. women’s team to Paralympic gold in 2004 and 2008. “The group we selected best fits the style of play that the coaches want to play – good speed, great shooters, excellent defensive skill in half and full court situations. There is a good mix of veterans and younger players who have been with us since we started this journey in 2013. We are excited to be back together and preparing for the Rio Paralympics.”
The cumulative participation at major events of the 12 athletes proves to be rich with veteran talent and a welcomed addition of younger elite athletes. By the numbers, this group has participated in 12 Paralympic Games and 16 World Championships combined. The roster returns eight from the silver-medal 2014 World Championships and 11 from the 2015 Parapan Am Games.
The U.S. team will open the Rio 2016 Paralympics on Sept. 8, against host country Brazil in the Rio Olympic Arena. The U.S. men’s team qualified for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games by winning the 2015 Parapan Am Games in Toronto, Canada. The U.S. men outscored the competition by 36 points per game.
The U.S. men’s team finished with a bronze medal at the London 2012 Paralympics and look to improve in Rio de Janeiro. The men’s team finished seventh in 2004 and fourth in 2008, following bronze-medal performances in 2000 and 1996.
Also joining Lykins on the sidelines will be assistant coaches Robb Taylor of Auburn, Alabama, and John Sikora of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Scott Meyer of Columbia, Missouri, will serve as the Team Leader, with Mary Vacala of Savannah, Georgia, filling the athletic trainer position. Also assisting in preparations are strength coach Michael Cohen of Savannah, Georgia, and team psychologist Dr. Roberta Kraus of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The sport of wheelchair basketball started in the United States in 1945 following World War II. The sport has grown worldwide and was introduced at the Rome 1960 Paralympic Games and today it is nearly participated in 100 countries. The sport is designed for athletes who have physical impairment of the lower extremities that prevents running, jumping and pivoting. Men and women play on teams of five players each and the measurements of the court and the height of the baskets are the same as in able-bodied basketball.
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
September 7-17, 2016
2016 U.S. Men’s Paralympic Games Roster (Alphabetical)
No. Name Residence Hometown Ht. Date of Birth
20 Jared Arambula Valparaiso, Ind. Valparaiso, Ind. 5’8” 1/8/1990
8 Brian Bell Forest Park, Ill. Birmingham, Ala. 6’1” 2/24/1989
12 John Gilbert Salisbury, Mo. Fairfax, Mo. 5’8” 4/4/1987
42 Aaron Gouge Grand Prairie, Texas Wake Forest, N.C. 6’0” 11/3/1985
15 Nate Hinze Oshkosh, Wis. Cedar Grove, Wis. 6’3” 6/12/1988
16 Trevon Jenifer Edinboro, Pa. Huntington, Md. 6’0” 9/7/1988
13 Ian Lynch Bellevue, Ky. Brooklyn Park, Minn. 5’4” 4/20/1984
5 Michael Paye Macomb, Mich. Warren, Mich. 5’10” 3/24/1983
9 Matt Scott Southfield, Mich. Detroit, Mich. 5’5” 3/27/1985
11 Steve Serio Westbury, N.Y. Westbury, N.Y. 5’4” 9/8/1987
4 Joshua Turek Council Bluffs, Iowa Council Bluffs, Iowa 5’11” 4/12/1979
2 Jake Williams Milwaukee, Wis. Milwaukee, Wis. 6’1” 8/2/1991
U.S. Men’s Staff: Head Coach Ron Lykins (Columbia, Mo.); Assistant Coaches Robb Taylor (Auburn, Ala.), and John Sikora (Pittsburgh, Pa.); Team Leader Scott Meyer (Columbia, Mo.); Athletic Trainer Mary Vacala (Savannah, Ga.); Strength Coach Michael Cohen (Savannah, Ga.); Team Psychologist Dr. Roberta Kraus (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
2016 U.S. Men’s Paralympic Games Schedule
Date Time Men/Women U.S. Opponent Venue
9/8/16 3:15P Men Brazil vs. USA Rio Olympic Arena
9/9/16 9:30A Men USA vs. Germany Rio Olympic Arena
9/10/16 3:45P Men USA vs. Islamic Republic of Iran Carioca Arena 1
9/11/16 6:00P Men Algeria vs. USA Carioca Arena 1
9/12/16 3:45P Men USA vs. Great Britain Carioca Arena 1
9/14/16 9:30A Men’s 11-12 place Rio Olympic Arena
9/14/16 11:45A Men’s quarter-final Rio Olympic Arena
9/14/16 3:15P Men’s quarter final Rio Olympic Arena
9/14/16 5:30P Men’s quarter final Rio Olympic Arena
9/14/16 9:00P Men’s quarter final Rio Olympic Arena
9/15/16 9:30A Men’s 9-10 place Rio Olympic Arena
9/15/16 5:30P Men’s semi-final Rio Olympic Arena
9/15/16 9:00P Men’s semi-final Rio Olympic Arena
9/17/16 9:30A Men’s 7-8 place Rio Olympic Arena
9/17/16 11:45A Men’s Bronze medal match Rio Olympic Arena
9/17/16 3:15P Men’s 5-6 place Rio Olympic Arena
9/17/16 5:30P Men’s Gold medal match Rio Olympic Arena
9/17/16 7:30P Men’s victory ceremony Rio Olympic Arena
2016 Rio Paralympic Games Men's pools
Group A: Australia; Canada; Turkey; Netherlands; Japan; Spain
Group B: Iran; USA; Great Britain; Germany; Algeria; Brazil