(TORONTO, ONT.) A potent mixture of intensity and composure surrounded the Canadian Parapan Am Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team when they improved their Toronto 2015 record to 2-0 by defeating Mexico 74-55 on Monday at the Ryerson Athletic Centre. From the opening tip-off through to the final buzzer Canada’s trademark defensive pressure was on full display. The Canucks overwhelmed their opponents early and wasted no time establishing a lead that they would not relinquish for the duration of the game.
The last time these two teams met was in 2013 and Canada needed a win for a chance to qualify for the 2014 World Championships, but to the surprise of many, it was Mexico who came out on top and who knocked the defending Paralympic champions out of contention in the process. With a certain amount of bitterness still present on the palate it was clear that Canada was hungry for the win for several reasons.
Nik Goncin, of Regina, Sask., paced the Canadian attack with deadly precision scoring 14 points in the first half and tallying a game-high 26 points. He would go on to shoot a remarkable 65% from the field and in the process tied a Canadian team record with four three-pointers.
Accuracy was also on the docket for Canadian sharp shooters Bo Hedges, of Wonowon, B.C., who hit seven-of-11 of his field goals (64%) and David Eng, of Montreal, Que., who delivered five-for-eight (63%). Hedges and Eng contributed a bulk of the Canadian offence with 14 and 11 points respectively.
“A lot of our success comes down to our teammates creating space for us and having confidence in the shot we are taking. We had some good looks. Everybody on this team can knock down shots. Today it was Nik and I, and David is always contributing. The other day it was Adam. So I think you see that with almost everybody getting some baskets every game,” said Team Canada’s Bo Hedges, of Wonowon B.C.
Coming out of the midway break Canada held a healthy 35-22 lead. Evidently, the Canadian game plan seemed pretty simple – find a way to get the ball into the hands of the hot shooter. On cue, and seemingly with ice in his veins, Goncin opened the second half with an uncontested field goal that would jolt the Canadians to go on a nine-point run. Moments later he would drop his third three-pointer of the night and force Mexico into taking a timeout for damage control.
From that point on Canada remained in control. They stretched their lead to as much as 25 points in the third quarter while simultaneously doing a tremendous job of squashing Mexico’s comeback attempts. Forcing turnovers at both ends of the court and quick transitions continued to be strengths for Canada as they caused Mexico to gift them the ball 29 times. Canada generated 26 points from turnovers compared to their opponents 16 points.
Each and every time Canada hit a basket or made a steal, the result was a boisterous response from the thousands of fans in attendance.
“It was an amazing atmosphere tonight. It’s amazing to have so many people here to watch,” said Hedges.
“The fans are amazing, we could feel the energy. It makes us want to push harder and represent our country,” said Eng.
The Canadian men will play their final preliminary round game against Argentina on Tuesday August 11, 2015 at 18:30 ET, immediately following the Canadian women who play Brazil at 16:15 ET.
— Nik Goncin (@goncin) August 11, 2015
Team Canada – Schedule & Results
Day 1 – Saturday August 8
Canada (women) 78 vs. Guatemala 18
Canada (men) 102 vs. Venezuela 27
Day 2 – Sunday August 9
Canada (women) 80 vs. Mexico 39
Day 3 – Monday August 10
Canada (men) 74 vs. Mexico 55
Day 4 – Tuesday August 11
Canada (women) vs. Brazil @ 16:15 ET
Canada (men) vs. Argentina @ 18:30 ET
Day 5 – Wednesday August 12
Day 6 – Thursday August 13
Day 7 – Friday August 14
Women’s bronze medal game @ 16:30 ET
Women’s gold medal game @ 18:45 ET
Day 8 – Saturday August 15
Men’s bronze medal game @ 08:30 ET
Men’s gold medal game @ 11:00 ET
Don’t Miss A Second of the Action
Get social with Wheelchair Basketball Canada (@WCBballCanada) by using the hashtags #OneTeam #OneGoal to join the conversation and follow the Canadian Parapan Am Wheelchair Basketball Team Canada as they push for the podium and the chance to qualify for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games!
Fans can also follow the entire Canadian Paralympic Team (@CDNParalympics) as Team Canada competes on home soil or by using the hashtag #paratough.
All wheelchair basketball games are webcast live by CBC at www.cbc.ca/sports/parapanam