RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Team USA had to come from behind for the first time in Rio Paralympics in order to keep its medal chances alive. Co-captain and three-time U.S. Paralympian Steve Serio of Westbury, New York, orchestrated a complete game on both ends of the court for the victory over the Netherlands, 70-37, and advance the United States into the semifinals.
The Netherlands built an 18-12 lead in the first quarter shooting an astounding 63 percent from the floor, as Team USA struggled only hitting 33 percent of its attempts. Serio was the statistical leader across the board with six points, three rebounds and three assists. Mustafa Korkmaz scored 8 points for the Dutch’s lead.
“Our offense was pretty stagnant to start the game, and we were not moving,” said U.S. Men’s Head Coach Ron Lykins of Columbia, Missouri. “They dug themselves out of hole and moved well in the second and started to spread the floor well. I trust these guys on this team. It’s a great chemistry.”
The tide reversed in the second as Team USA held the Netherlands scoreless for nine minutes and Team USA scored 15 points from three players. Three-time U.S. Paralympian Josh Turek of Council Bluffs, Iowa, paced the team with six of his 14 points in the second quarter. Four-time Paralympian Matt Scott of Detroit, Michigan, put up five of his nine points in the second quarter, and Serio closed out with four more points. At the half, Team USA led Netherlands, 27-20.
“It was the quarterfinals of the tournament and we laid down to start the game,” said Serio. “We had a good game plan coming in and we did not need to change it. We just had to execute to the plan. Our defense is the signature of this team. We put a line-up in there in the second that is pure energy.
Team USA continued its pressure to open the second half with a 24-4 run for a 51-24 lead over the Netherlands. Team USA’s defense was relentless for two minutes only allowing the Dutch to score six points. The trio of Serio, Turek, and Scott moved the ball extremely efficient, and improved Team USA accuracy from the floor to 60 percent. The Netherlands shot 32 percent over three quarters.
In the fourth, the United States played a variety of players continuing its dominance by adding 19 more points in the final stanza. Once again, the U.S. had 10 of its 12 athletes score.
Serio, who scored his most points tonight, led the squad with 18 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists. Turek was the second leading scorer with 14 points and nine rebounds. For the game, Team USA was 30 of 58 from the floor, and forced a total of 20 turnovers.
Overall, Team USA is 76-15 in Paralympic Games competition. Up next for Team USA is the winner of the Turkey vs. Brazil quarterfinal, that is scheduled for 8 p.m. Eastern.
The United States and the Netherlands have played each other a total of seven times in the Paralympics. Prior to this afternoon, the last time they met was in 2004. The United States now has a 3-4 record against the Netherlands.
The United States Men’s team finished pool play competition undefeated, 5-0.
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
USA def. Germany, 77-25
USA def. Islamic Republic of Iran, 93-44
USA def. Algeria, 92-24
USA def. Great Britain, 65-48
Spain def. Germany, 70-66
Great Britain vs. Australia, 74-51
Turkey vs. Brazil
United States def. Netherlands, 70-37
Spain vs. Great Britain
United States vs. winner of Turkey vs. Brazil
9th/10th Place – Japan vs. Islamic Republic of Iran on September 15
11th/12th Place – Canada def. Algeria, 70-51
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games U.S. Wheelchair Basketball Record – 6-0