RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The U.S. Men’s Paralympic Wheelchair Basketball Team started the 2016 Games by almost doubling-up host country Brazil, 75-38, and was a complete team effort with all contributing. Leading the charge for Team USA was Brian Bell of Birmingham, Alabama, who dominated on both ends of the court scoring 15 points, five rebounds and 3 steals.
Bell, who scored a team-leading 15 points in the first half, showed his presence by starting the shooting spree with a three-pointer, and was solid from every other point on the floor. Joining him in the first half were two-time U.S. Paralympian Trevon Jenifer of Huntington, Maryland, and Jake Williams of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, combined for 12 more points, giving the U.S. a 39-16 lead at the half. Williams finished with 8 points in the game.
“It feels good to come out and give a good strong performance to open the Paralympics,” said Bell. “It is amazing to play in front of all of the fans. I was actually energized by the Brazilian fans. We need to make sure that we keep our foot on the pedal and not ease up.”
The second half witnessed a variety of line-up changes, proving to be too much for the Brazilians. Three-time U.S. Paralympian Josh Turek of Council Bluffs, Iowa, paced the Americans in the second half contributing 15 points, and snagging 7 rebounds during his 15 minutes of play.
The U.S. defense was energized by co-captain Steve Serio of Westbury, N.Y., who is playing in his third consecutive Games. Serio snared 7 rebounds, and led the team with 7 assists. Four-time Paralympian Matt Scott of Detroit, Michigan, scored 8 points. Nate Hinze of Cedar Grove, Wisconsin, Jared Arambula of Valparaiso, Indiana, and Jenifer each scored six points.
“It was good to come out and play somebody other than ourselves,” said U.S. Men’s Head Coach Ron Lykins of Columbia, Missouri. “They really played well and it was such a great environment starting against Brazil. We did not deviate from the game plan, passed the ball well, and put up a strong defense. We have a lot of options on our bench, which will make us a challenge for others.”
The United States has faced Brazil a total of four time at the Paralympic Games and maintain a perfect 4-0 mark.
The U.S. men next play on Friday at 8:30 a.m. Eastern against Germany. The U.S. men’s team qualified for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games by winning the 2015 Parapan Am Games in Toronto, Canada. The U.S. men outscored the competition by 36 points per game.
Also joining Lykins on the sidelines will be assistant coaches Robb Taylor of Auburn, Alabama, and John Sikora of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Scott Meyer of Columbia, Missouri, will serve as the Team Leader, with Mary Vacala of Savannah, Georgia, filling the athletic trainer position. Also assisting in preparations are strength coach Michael Cohen of Savannah, Georgia, and team psychologist Dr. Roberta Kraus of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The U.S. men’s team finished with a bronze medal at the London 2012 Paralympics and look to improve in Rio de Janeiro. The men’s team finished seventh in 2004 and fourth in 2008, following bronze-medal performances in 2000 and 1996.
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
September 7-17, 2016
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games Wheelchair Basketball Results
USA def. Brazil, 75-38