(Toronto, Ont) The top junior wheelchair basketball teams on the globe are making final preparations for what promises to be eight days of fierce competition as the Men’s U23 World Championship returns to Toronto.
The 2017 Men’s U23 World Wheelchair Basketball Championship runs from June 8-16 and features 12 teams from four International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) zones as they vie for the highly coveted world championship title.
In Pool A, sports fans can watch potentially heated matches between several contenders including the previous host Turkey, three-time bronze medallists Australia, one-time silver medallist Brazil, and host and two-time gold medallist Canada. Italy and Iran, who will be making their second Men’s U23 World Championship appearances will also compete for a top spot in Pool A.
Pool B features the reigning champion, Germany, the United States boasting two gold medals, one silver and one bronze, as well as one-time silver medallist Japan. Rounding out the group of teams battling for position in Pool B is Great Britain, France and South Africa.
Confidence is high for Turkey’s return to the world championship stage after hosting the 2013 tournament in Adana. Although the team has fallen short of the podium at their previous three world championship appearances, Turkey took the top spot at the 2017 U22 European Championship and has set their sights on a high finish this year.
Team Australia has competed at four of the five previous world championships. Throughout these appearances Australia has claimed bronze three times and narrowly missed the podium in 2009 with a fourth place finish. The Australian men head into the 2017 Men’s U23 World Championship in search of another back-to-back finish on the podium.
2017 marks the fourth trip to the world championship for the Brazilian Men’s U23 National Team. Brazil last competed at the world championship in 2009, where the team placed seventh. The team has placed as high as second throughout their history at the tournament, when they hosted the event in Blumenau, Brazil in 2001. The Brazilian team heads into the 2017 Men’s U23 World Championship hoping for a return to the podium.
Host team Canada will be competing for their third podium finish at the world championship and is looking for redemption coming off a sixth place finish at the tournament in 2013. The Canadian roster features offensive stars Liam Hickey and Ben Moronchuk who joined the Canadian Senior Men’s Team at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Hickey and Vincent Dallaire were part of the Canadian team that fought for a second place finish at the 2015 Parapan Am Games and are also the two returning players from the Canadian side that competed at the last world championship for junior men in 2013. With the seasoned Paralympians and Parapan Am medallists leading the Canadian roster, the host team seeks to use that experience to capture a spot on the podium.
The Italian U23 men have competed at only one previous world championship where they fought to an eighth place finish in 2013. With a team headlined by high scorer Sabri Bedzeti and a fourth place finish at the 2017 U22 European qualifier, Italy is looking to improve upon their standing at the 2017 Men’s U23 World Championship.
Rounding off Pool A is Iran with their second appearance at the tournament after a fifth place finish in 2013. In lead up to the tournament, the Iranian men are coming off their second consecutive first place finish at the Asia-Oceania U23 qualifier where their star player Mohammadhassan Sayari also claimed the title of top point producer at the tournament. The team appears poised to start climbing up the world rankings.
In Pool B, Germany enters the tournament on a high note. As the reigning world champions, Germany is one of the teams to beat in Toronto. The team has achieved podium success only once at past world championships for junior men. After qualifying with a bronze finish at the 2017 U22 European Championship, the German men will have to work hard to defend their title.
Team USA has been among the top powerhouses in junior men’s wheelchair basketball, having enjoyed great success at four of the past five world championships. The American men boast podium finishes in all of their previous appearances at the event, including back-to-back gold medals in 2009 and 2005. The team will look for a return to the podium after an absence from the event in 2013 and a dominant performance at the 2017 Americas Cup qualification tournament where American Kyle Gribble was named tournament MVP.
The Japanese Men’s U23 National Team has competed at the past three world championships. The team has placed as high as second in its history at the tournament, reaching the podium only once in their debut appearance in 2005. Most recently, Japan placed ninth at the last world championship for junior men in 2013.
The British Men’s Team has battled to fourth place finishes at the past three world championships for junior men, including in 2005 on home soil in Birmingham. With consecutive finishes falling just shy of a medal and a roster that includes Gregg Warburton, a Paralympic bronze medallist, Great Britain will be looking to make its presence felt on the court
The French Men are coming off of a fifth place finish at the 2017 U22 European Championship, where the team seized the final qualification spot for the right to compete at the 2017 Men’s U23 World Championship. France is looking to improve upon their 10th place finish at their most recent world championship appearance.
This year marks South Africa’s third appearance at the event, having played at the most recent championships in 2013 and 2009. After dominating opposing teams at the U23 African World Championship qualifier, the South African team enters the tournament looking to improve on their previous two 11th place finishes.
The tournament gets underway at 8 a.m. on Thursday, June 8. Preliminary play wraps up on June 12, with the quarter-finals and semifinals set for June 14 and 15, respectively. The bronze and gold medal games will play out on Friday, June 16 starting at 10 a.m. ET.
For more information visit www.2017u23wwbc.com / #2017u23wwbc
About the Event
Wheelchair Basketball Canada is pleased to host the top junior male wheelchair basketball players on the planet from June 8-16, 2017 for the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) Men’s U23 World Wheelchair Basketball Championship.
World-class athletes representing 12 nations, including host Canada, will converge at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in downtown Toronto to showcase the elite skill and athleticism that make wheelchair basketball a thrilling spectator sport and one of the most popular sports for athletes with a disability in the world. Over 400 athletes, coaches, officials, delegates, and volunteers will attend the event.
Team Canada is in pursuit of a return to the top of the podium, having won back-to-back gold medals at the world championship for junior men in 1997 and 2001. Most recently, Canada placed sixth at the last world championship for junior men in 2013.
For more information visit: www.2017u23wwbc.com / #2017u23wwbc
About the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF)
The International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) is the international governing body responsible for wheelchair basketball. It is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to provide opportunities for persons with a disability to play the game of wheelchair basketball. For more information, please visit www.iwbf.org.
About Wheelchair Basketball Canada
Wheelchair Basketball Canada is the national sport governing body responsible for the organization of the sport in Canada. It is a non-profit, charitable organization that is committed to excellence in the development, support and promotion of wheelchair basketball programs and services for all Canadians from grassroots to high performance. Wheelchair basketball is a fast-paced, hard-hitting, competitive sport in which Canada is held in high esteem around the world for winning a combined six gold, one silver, and one bronze medal in the last seven Paralympic Games. For more information, please visit www.wheelchairbasketball.ca.
Wheelchair Basketball Canada is hosting the 2017 Men’s U23 World Wheelchair Basketball Championship. It marks the organization’s fifth opportunity to host a landmark international wheelchair basketball championship, having previously hosted the Women’s World Championship in 2014, the Men’s World Championship in 1994, the inaugural Men’s U23 World Championship in 1997, and the first-ever Women’s U25 World Championship in 2011.