CALI, COLOMBIA – The U.S. Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team and defending Rio Paralympic gold medalists, opened the 2017 IWBF America’s Qualifier at the Evangelista Mora Coliseum with a 45-point victory over Mexico, 79-34. The pace was established early as four Rio gold medalists scored double digits and never looked back.
This was the first major competition since the Rio Paralympics, and the U.S. men were poised from the tip-off at 8 a.m. central time. In the first quarter, the men came out fast with a 16-5 lead, and built upon that in the next two quarters, outscoring Mexico, 25-6 in the second quarter, and 25-11 in the third for a 66-22 advantage.
Jake Williams of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, led the team with 20 points, and only saw playing time in three quarters. Also finding double digits were Matt Scott of Detroit, Michigan, with 14 points; with Steve Serio of Westbury, New York, and Brian Bell of Birmingham, Alabama, each scoring 12 points.
On the day, Team USA forced 17 turnovers, outrebounded Mexico 33-18, and the largest scoring run on the morning was 14 points.
Martin Castro led Mexico with 11 points, with Edgar Luvianos and Salvador Sandoval each scoring 7 points each.
“I am really pleased with the mental preparation of the entire team and that transitioned well into the overall play this morning,” said U.S. Men’s Head Coach Ron Lykins of Columbia, Missouri. “Everyone on the roster played well and was a very solid performance and it is great to be back in competition. Things will get tougher tomorrow as we play the home team and we are ready to meet that challenge.”
Up next, Team USA will face host country Colombia on Thursday, August 24 at 7 p.m. central time.
The U.S. Men were drawn into Group B and will have pool play competition against Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay. Group A Teams are: Argentina, Canada, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela.
On August 28, the quarter finals are slated for a 1 p.m. Central start and conclude later that evening. The two semi-final games are slated for August 29 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Central. The medal games are scheduled for August 30 at 3 p.m. with the bronze-medal games, and will be followed with the gold-medal game at 5 p.m. Central.
The United States is led by Head Coach Ron Lykins of Columbia, Missouri, who has coached three teams to gold medals at the Paralympics (2004 and 2008 women; 2016 men). He will be assisted by Robb Taylor of Auburn, Alabama, and Christian Burkett of Seattle, Washington. Scott Meyer of Columbia, Missouri, returns as the team manager, and Mary Vacala of Savannah, Georgia, will be serving as the athletic trainer.
The America’s Qualifier is the first set of the four-year trek to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. The U.S. Men must place in the top four to qualify for the 2018 IWBF World Championships in Hamburg, Germany in August. Following the worlds, the U.S. will play in the 2019 ParaPan American Games set for Lima, Peru.
IWBF America’s Qualifier
August 23-30, 2017
USA def. Mexico, 79-34
Date Time (CST) / U.S. Opponent
8/24 7 PM / Colombia
8/25 1 PM / Uruguay
8/27 4 PM / Brazil
IWBF America’s Qualifier Medal Rounds
8/28 1 PM, Men’s quarter-final
8/28 3 PM, Men’s quarter-final
8/28 5 PM, Men’s quarter-final
8/28 7 PM, Men’s quarter-final
8/29 1 PM, Men’s semi-final
8/29 5 PM, Men’s semi-final
8/30 3 PM, Men’s Bronze-medal game
8/30 5 PM, Men’s Gold-medal game