A team of 11 emerging elite U.S. Wheelchair Basketball players is scheduled to depart Sunday for the 2015 Kitakyushu Champions Cups in Kitakyushu, Japan. The U.S. Wheelchair Basketball team will take on Great Britain, Korea and host nation, Japan, from Nov. 11-15. This competition will highlight athletes whose goal is to represent their country in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Collin Evans of Mondovi, Wis., who was a participant of the 2015 NWBA Parapan Am Games Selection Camp, will lead this group of aspiring elite athletes. Thomas Duffy of Ottawa, Ill., a junior in high school and a member of the 2015 NWBA All-Academic Team, and three-time National Championships player at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Joshua Poulson of Bountiful, Utah, will help the team on the hardwoods.
Also making their first international wheelchair basketball tournament trip are: Chris Bacon, of Miami, Fla.; John Boie, of Hapeville, Ga.; Derek Hoot, of Champaign, Ill.; Ryan Juguan, of Urbana, Ill.; Devin Lockett, of Chicago; James Mocer Jr., of Macomb, Mich.; Rafael Rodriguez, of Hapeville, Ga.; and Cherronte Watts, Jackson, Ga.
“This is a critical step in the development of this younger generation of athletes,” said U.S. head coach Matt Buchi of Champaign, Ill. “Opportunities like these are rare and this could be a difference maker in one of these athletes becoming a Paralympian. The Kitakyushu Tournament will provide invaluable experience to help these athletes take their game to the next level and help groom them for possible future Paralympic success.”
Team USA will start the Kitakyushu Cup with an exhibition game against Kanto on Nov. 12, following the opening ceremonies. The U.S. team will have consecutive games from Nov. 13-15 against Great Britain, Japan and Korea. The gold-medal and bronze-medal games will be played on Nov. 15.
Buchi, the University of Illinois Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Head Coach and 2012 U.S. Women’s Paralympic Team assistant coach will be assisted on the sidelines by 2012 U.S. Men’s Paralympic team leader Trent Trenhaus of Chicago, and Christian Burkett of Lake Stevens, Wash. Adam Lindsay of Stansbury Park, Utah, will serve as the team leader.
This tournament commemorates the 2002 Kitakyushu Gold Cup. Aside from its goal to nurture young talent, organizers hope to showcase Kitakyushu as a potential training camp location for participating countries at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
The games will be broadcast live over UStream at this link: http://m.ustream.tv/channel/wheelchairbasket
You can also follow the team at the NWBA Facebook page.