CALI, COLOMBIA – The U.S. Men’s National Team has earned a spot in the gold-medal game of the 2017 IWBF America’s Qualifier, by defeating Argentina on Tuesday afternoon at the Evangelista Mora Coliseum, 50-36. Team USA made the first points of the game and never looked back, however there were moments where the game was close.
Brian Bell of Birmingham, Alabama, and a 2016 gold-medalist, was the top scorer finishing with 12 points and 6 rebounds. Bell’s two-pointer at 6:24 of the fourth quarter gave Team USA the breathing room, and allowed Team USA to pull away with the 14-point victory.
USA started off strong finishing the first quarter with a 19-10 advantage. They made sure to maintain their lead and were at least 6 points ahead of Argentina at the end of every quarter (19-10; 27-21; 37-28; 50-36).
Top scorers of the game also included Jacob Williams of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Ryan Neiswender of Lebanon, Pennsylvania. Williams is also a member of the 2016 gold-medal team, and Neiswender was a member of the 2013 America’s Qualifier team. Both Williams and Neiswender scored 10 points and grabbed 2 rebounds each.
Three-time Paralympian and 2016 co-captain Steve Serio of Westbury, New York, was the other top scorer of the game. He managed to score 8 points, snagged 8 rebounds, and had 4 assists.
The U.S. Men out rebounded Argentina, 32-26.
Adolfo Berdun and Carlos Alberto Esteche were the top scorers for Argentina with 10 points each. They also managed 4 and 7 rebounds, respectively.
The medal games are set for August 30 at 3 p.m. with the bronze-medal game, and will be followed with the gold-medal game at 5 p.m. central. Team USA will play in the gold-medal game against either Canada or Brazil.
“We are happy to grind out a win today and position ourselves in the gold-medal game tomorrow,” said U.S. Men’s Head Coach Ron Lykins of Columbia, Missouri. “It will be a tough matchup tomorrow and we expect our team to be ready.”
The U.S. Men were drawn into Group B and had pool play competition against Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay. Group A Teams are: Argentina, Canada, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela.
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 are now qualified 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
Results (USA Record 6-0)
USA def. Mexico, 79-34
USA def. Colombia, 85-36
USA def. Uruguay, 78-24
USA def. Brazil, 47-44
Quarterfinal: USA def. Venezuela, 101-26
Semifinal: USA def. Argentina, 50-36
IWBF America’s Qualifier Medal Rounds
8/30 3 PM, Men’s Bronze-medal game: Argentina vs. Canada or Brazil
8/30 5 PM, Men’s Gold-medal game: USA vs. Canada or Brazil