COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO – The NWBA announced the 2018 U.S. Men’s National Wheelchair Basketball Team, following a four-day selection camp at the Olympic Training Center. The 2018 U.S. Team sees the return of 10 of 12 athletes from the 2016 Paralympic Games gold-medal team. The U.S. Men’s Team consists of 17 athletes who will come together again in May for the final selection for the 2018 World Championships team roster of 12 athletes.
Team USA will prepare for the IWBF World Championships with a variety of training camps and friendly competitions. The IWBF World Championships are set for Hamburg, Germany, August 16-26, at the Edel-Optics Arena, that will feature a total of 16 men’s team.
The road to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics for wheelchair basketball started in 2017 with the America’s Zonal Qualifying tournament, where Team USA claimed a gold medal after defeating Canada. In 2019, the U.S. Team will compete at the Para Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru. The quadrenium will close out with the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.
2016 co-captains Steve Serio of Westbury, New York, and Mike Paye of Warren, Michigan, return to the squad. Serio, a three-time Paralympian (2008, 2012, 2016), paced the United States in Rio from the point and has earned two consecutive Paralympic medals (2012 bronze, 2016 gold). Paye, also a three-time Paralympian (2004, 2008, 2016), is the contributor in a variety of looks for the U.S. men.
Matt Scott of Detroit, Michigan, returns in an attempt to make a fifth consecutive U.S. Paralympic Team. Scott has seen action on the big stage since the Athens Paralympics, and has earned two Paralympic medals in 2012 and 2016. Two-time Paralympic medalist Ian Lynch of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, also returns to the squad. Both are versatile players on defense and offense.
Two-time Paralympic medalists Nate Hinze of Cedar Grove, Wisconsin, and Trevon Jenifer of Huntingtown, Maryland, have returned to the U.S. Men’s National Team after taking a year off following the Rio Games.
Four members of the 2016 gold-medal team return and are looking towards their second appearance at the 2020 Paralympics, and all earned a silver medal at the 2014 World Championships. Leading the quartet is Brian Bell of Forest Park, Illinois; Jared Arambula of Valparaiso, Indiana; Aaron Gouge of Wake Forest, North Carolina; and Jake Williams of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Also joining the Paralympians will be: John Boie of Milton, Wisconsin; Ryan Neiswender of Lebanon, Pennsylvania; Jorge Salazar, of Delano, California; and Jorge Sanchez of Oakland, California. Neiswender and Sanchez were members of the 2013 and 2017 America’s Qualifier teams. This is Salazar’s third National Team selection camp, and was a member of the gold-medal winning 2017 America’s Qualifier. Salazar is a member of the NWBA’s San Diego Wolfpack, who is a perennial contender for a national championship.
A trio of NWBA Collegiate Division players were named to their first U.S. Men’s National Team: Tyler Buysee of Gunter, Texas (University of Missouri); Dylan Fischbach of Vermillion, South Dakota (University of Wisconsin at Whitewater); and Fabian Romo of Chicago, Illinois (University of Texas at Arlington).
“We have a lot of talent in the United States and this was a tough decision to identify the National Team. Since Wednesday, the athletes were focused and showed a high level of intensity, and this is one of the best prepared group of athletes we have evaluated in recent years,” said U.S. Men’s Head Coach Ron Lykins of Columbia, Missouri. “We are going to continue to track and assess this outstanding group of talent over the next several months to select a World Championships team this summer that positions us for success.”
U.S. Men’s Head Coach Ron Lykins of Columbia, Missouri, returns to lead Team USA. Lykins has coached three U.S. Paralympic gold-medal teams (2004 women; 2008 women; 2016 men). Joining Lykins on the sidelines will be assistant coaches Robb Taylor of Auburn, Alabama, John Sikora of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Scott Meyer of Columbia, Missouri, is the team leader, with Mary Vacala of Savannah, Georgia, serving as the Athletic Trainer. The Team Physician is Dr. Gloria Beim of Crested Butte, Colorado.
Team USA qualified for the 2018 World Championships by winning the 2017 America’s Zonal Qualifier in Cali, Colombia. The U.S. Men last lost in the 2014 World Championships, where they claimed a silver medal. At the 2015 ParaPan Am Games, Team USA cruised to the gold medal.
Team USA has brought home a medal at all World Championships, including six gold medals, four silver medals, and one bronze medal. Team USA has played for the gold medal in 10 of the 11 IWBF World Championships.
At the Rio Paralympics, the U.S. Men outscored the field, 614-349. The U.S. Men’s Paralympic Team led eight of 12 stat categories. The U.S. Men won a bronze medal at the 2012 Paralympics, and were seventh in 2004 and fourth in 2008, following bronze-medal performances in 2000 and 1996.