“These are building blocks, and we’re excited.”
“To finally play against other teams, it’s exciting”
“I’m a little anxious, and excited. Very excited.”
The excitement permeates this United States Women’s National Team, as they prepare to play competitively as a unit for the first time since selection camp in January. They’ll test those newly formed bonds quickly, as they host the International Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Friendly Camp & Games from June 27-29 at Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The competition will feature national teams from Australia and the Netherlands, who will all use these games as preparation for the IWBF World Championships in August in Hamburg, Germany.
While the U.S. Women won gold at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, this pool of teams features a higher level of parity than usual. The U.S. Women have only two members of the 2016 Rio Paralympic team on this year’s roster. According to head coach Trooper Johnson, the teams will have to experiment with lineups as new players learn to fit-in to their new roles.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Rose Hollermann played a major role for the U.S. when the team won gold in Rio; the 22 year-old is now one of the elder statesman tasked with helping a new, younger group mesh. The only other 2016 Rio Paralympic holdover is Abigail Dunkin, ready to reunite with Hollermann and Morgan Wood, her teammates at University of Texas at Arlington.
The Dutch won the Osaka Cup in Japan last year, thanks in large part to tournament MVP Mariska Beijer. The Dutch actually entered the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games as favorites to win gold, thanks to Beijer, who averaged 19 points per game during the tournament. Beijer and her squad ended up going home with a bronze medal after a loss to their German rival in the semi-finals.
Team Australia just wrapped up a series of friendly games in Japan, going 0-5 without their main pieces Cobi Crispin, Amber Merritt, Leanne Del Toso and Clare Nott. A bright spot shined in the form of Annabelle Linsey, who had a few 20+ point performances in her teammates’ absence. Keep an eye on whether those games were just a flash in the pan, or the breakout of a new impact player for the Gliders.
The exhibitions open up Wednesday, June 27, with Australia vs the Netherlands at 8 a.m. MT. The United States team tips off against The Netherlands at 2:00 p.m. MST. Each team plays two games a day, with morning matches starting at 8:00 a.m., afternoon games at 2:00 p.m., and evening games at 7:00 p.m. (all times MST).
The IWBF World Championships are set for Hamburg, Germany, August 16-26, at the Edel-Optics Arena. The tournament will feature 16 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
WEDNESDAY JUNE 27
8:00 AM - AUSTRALIA VS NETHERLANDS
2:00 PM - NETHERLANDS VS USA
7:00 PM - USA VS AUSTRALIA
THURSDAY JUNE 28
8:00 AM - NETHERLANDS VS USA
2:00 PM - USA VS AUSTRALIA
7:00 PM - AUSTRALIA VS NETHERLANDS
FRIDAY JUNE 29
8:00 AM - USA VS AUSTRALIA
2:00 PM - AUSTRALIA VS NETHERLANDS
7:00 PM - NETHERLANDS VS USA