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USA Men Win in Quarter-Finals

By Will Waller, 08/28/19, 2:45PM CDT


LIMA, PERU – The USA Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team wins in quarter-final action at the 2019 ParaPan American Games. Team Captain, Steve Serio (Westbury, NY) logs a game high 22 points and leads Team USA into the semi-final round.

Serio was just two assists shy of a triple-double at the VIDENA (Villa Deportiva Nacional) on the fifth day of competition. In addition to his 22 points, he would snag ten rebounds, eight assists and six steals (all game highs). Serio, a veteran of Team USA since 2006, has developed an innate ability to fluctuate between scorer and facilitator. He’s able to seemingly flip a switch to activate whatever the team needs during any given play.

“There are some games where it’s my opportunity to score and lead the team that way, but there’s also times when it’s time for me to distribute and get other guys involved,” said Serio.

He would take control of the game midway through the second quarter, using his defense (four steals in the first half) to generate offense for Team USA. He would have multiple assists to his teammates and three for three during a two-minute span. After a chase down steal from behind by Trevon Jenifer (Huntingtown, MD), Serio capped this stretch with a picturesque three-pointer, holding his follow-through until the ball rotated through the net.

As impressive Serio’s performance was, the more impressive element to this squad is their depth. On the floor at this time for Team USA was the 3.5 classification line-up. The other 3.5s on the floor to accompany Serio were Josh Turek (Council Bluffs, IA) and Matt Scott (Detroit, MI), who were the second and third leading scorers, respectively.

Teams have struggled to compete with the USA Men’s National Wheelchair Basketball Team throughout this tournament, because the depth of the team. The other teams from North, Central and South America have had the unenviable task of deciding which Americans to prioritize. As soon as they prioritize one player, another goes on a highly potent run of their own. What’s more, the entire USA roster has exhibited superior chair skills and speed, which have frequently stifled the movement of their opponents.

Despite the performance today and throughout this tournament, Head Coach Ron Lykins (Columbia, MO) is not satisfied yet. “I thought [the performance] today was pretty uneven. There are times we played pretty well and some times we played pretty poorly,” he said.

Team USA is seeking to finish top three at the Lima 2019 ParaPan American Games, in order to qualify for Tokyo 2020.  Coach Lykins went on to say, “we’re going to use our time together tonight and tomorrow to prepare for our semi-final and be ready for whoever we face.”

This Friday, August 30, the USA Men will play the winner of Argentina vs. Puerto Rico, who are competing in another quarter-final later today.

The USA Women will play in their semi-final Thursday, August 29 against Argentina at 8:45 pm central.

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