- Men’s team must finish Top 3 for spot in Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games
- Nik Goncin (Regina, Sask.) had a triple-double (16 pts, 11 rebounds, 10 assists)
- Patrick Anderson (Fergus, Ont.) scored 24 points
(August 27, 2019 – LIMA, PERU) It was a war of attrition with Canada coming out on top 79-73 in the fight with Argentina for first seed in Pool A of the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games. With another victory under their belt, the 3-0 Canadian Men move on to play Peru in the quarterfinals Wednesday August 28 at 6:30pm ET.
Argentina struck the first blow by opening the scoring with the game’s first two field goals. Patrick Anderson, of Fergus, Ont. countered to put Canada on the board with Nik Goncin of Regina, Sask. providing the feed. Shortly after Goncin drained his first of his two 3-pointers in the half to give Canada some mounting momentum.
Goncin finished the game with Canada’s first triple-double of the tournament. In 35:48 of playing time he amassed 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists in the win.
Moments later after hauling in a highlight reel steal, Anderson found himself on a breakaway from half court. Number 12 for Canada made no mistake cashing in the uncontested layup on route to his team-high 24 points.
More great ball movement from the Canadian troops allowed them to dismantle the Argentina defence in the latter part of the first quarter. One terrific pass after another led to several uncontested buckets as part of a 16-0 Canada run. Goncin distributed three of his teams eight assists in the first ten minutes alone. One of his teammates on the receiving end was Lee Melymick, of Toronto, Ont. who dropped 10 of his 16 points in the first half.
“They really keyed in on Pat [Anderson] and Nik [Goncin], our scoring threats from previous games, so it left some other guys like me and Tyler [Miller] more open. We got just enough space that we could get the pass and make them pay for putting too much pressure on our big players,” said Melymick.
“My mindset is to go out there and be aggressive and try and score, but at some point teams can really overplay it, so the switch flips and you try to get rid of the ball. It’s amazing when good things happen because you make a few more passes and you end up with a layup, which is really the story tonight. They were hitting some crazy shot on one end – haymakers. Then we came down the other end and got layups,” said Anderson.
Tyler Miller of Kitchener, Ont. also hit double-digit scoring for Canada with 11 points on the night.
“It’s a long time coming in the sense that these guys have put in a ton of work, hours, and weeks, and months for two or three touches a game sometimes. And the fact that they can be ready to catch those passes and finish gives a real sense of team accomplishment and personal pride that these guys can take from their contribution in a super tight game,” said Anderson.
Canada led 25-15 after the first quarter and were up as much as 13 points in the half, but Argentina refused to back down. They relentlessly chipped away at the deficit until a timely three pointer in the dying seconds of the opening half by Ovejero Berdun restored the lead for Argentina. As a result, Canada trailed 43-42 going into the break.
Through two quarters, Anderson’s 16 points paced the floor with Berdun following close behind with 15 point for Argentina.
The closely contested foes continued to clash in third and fourth quarter. With just under six minutes to go in the game Canada grappled the lead back 65-64.
In the crucial final minutes of the game both Goncin and Melymick drew fouls and took full advantage of the opportunity grab the extra two points each from the free-throw line. The pair combined to go a perfect 8-for-8 from the charity strip.
“We came out here to win every game in order to get the best seed for the next round, and that’s what we did. It was a tough fought game, but we pulled through,” said Melymick.
Anderson snatched his fifth and final steal of the game with 1:50 left on the clock to hault the Argentina comeback. It was fitting that the game’s final basked was a give-and-go. Anderson launched a pass to Goncin, and the ball was returned to him for a nice finish off the glass.
Canada finished the game with 32 assists compared to Argentina’s 21.
“It feels good to take a few on the chin from a team that is perfectly build to exploit some of our weaknesses and to respond with an amazing game from everybody, especially the little guys. On one end of the court, you just have to look at these big guys shooting over them, but Lee [Melymick] and Tyler [Miller] and Jazzy [Chad Jassman] can go down on the other end and hit buckets when they overplay on us is just poetic justice,” said Anderson.
The other quarterfinals will see top seeded USA in Pool B take on Mexico, while it’s Brazil vs Colombia, and Argentina vs Puerto Rico.
Canada has finished in the top three in all five previous Parapan American Games they competed in. Canada won gold in 2003, silver in 1999, 2007 and 2015 and bronze in 2011. The Parapan Am tournament is the direct qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. The men’s team must finish atop the podium to earn a berth into next year’s Paralympics.
Canada’s schedule is as follows:
- August 24: Canada (Women) 83 vs. Colombia 6 – win
- August 25: Canada (Men) 64 vs. Colombia 51 – win
- August 25: Canada (Women) 82 vs. Argentina 25 – win
- August 26: Canada (Men) 74 vs. Mexico 48 – win
- August 27: Canada (Women) 79 vs. Mexico 21 – win
- August 27: Canada (Men) 79 vs. Argentina 73 – win
- August 28: Quarter-finals – Canada (Men) vs Peru at 7:30pm ET
- August 29: Semifinals – Canada (Women) vs Brazil at 7:30pm ET
- August 30: Semifinals (Men) – tbc
- August 30: Final (Women) – tbc
- August 31: Final (Men) – tbc
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About the Canadian Paralympic Committee: Paralympic.ca
About Wheelchair Basketball Canada: WheelchairBasketball.ca
About Lima 2019
The Lima 2019 Parapan American Games will take place August 23 to September 1 in Peru and will surpass Toronto 2015 as the largest Parapan Am Games ever with a record 1,850 athletes set to participate. Canada is expecting to send a team of approximately 152 athletes and competition partners in 13 sports. The Canadian Paralympic Committee will announce the official full team heading to the Games later this month.
Lima 2019 Media Attaché, Wheelchair Basketball
Director, Marketing and Communications
Wheelchair Basketball Canada
Lima cell: +51 920 342747
Manager, Public Relations
Canadian Paralympic Committee
Lima Cell: +51 920 342 739