The Canadian men’s wheelchair basketball Paralympic team continued to experiment with different on-court combinations at the 2016 Men’s Continental Clash in Leicester, Great Britain, as they dressed their fourth different lineup of the tournament to take on Japan on Monday.
Nik Goncin, Deion Green, Bo Hedges, Peter Won and Jonathan Vermette were the starting five. Hedges is the only one of this group with prior Paralympic experience (gold in London, silver in Beijing).
They and their teammates were not able to solve Japan. The Japanese (2-2) scored the first six points of the game and steamrolled to a 57-41 win. This loss drops Canada to a 0-4 record at this six-nation tournament.
This Canadian team did show promise by outscoring the Japanese 14-13 in the second quarter and tying them with 14 points in the fourth.
Goncin, a native of Regina, Sask., led Canada with 15 points, six rebounds and four assists, while Medicine Hat, Alta’s Chad Jassman came off the bench to chip in 11 points and five rebounds.
This is the third game in the tournament that the 24-year-old recorded the most points for Canada.
Field goal execution was a difference maker in the game as Japan shot 42 per cent (27 for 63) while Canada shot 30 per cent (16 for 53). Japan also had a 28-14 advantage in points from the paint.
It is to be expected that the Canadian national team’s offence would not be firing on all cylinders in this exhibition tournament two months ahead of the Paralympics. Team Canada’s coaching staff is hoping that tinkering with the player combinations will help this young team gel together so they will be a cohesive unit by the Rio Games begin on Sept.8.
A win is needed against Australia on Tuesday (4:45 a.m., EST) if Canada wants to avoid leaving this Paralympic tune-up with zero wins. This will be a difficult task considering Australia (3-1) is the second ranked team in the standings of this six-nation tournament. The United States, with a perfect 4-0 record, is the No.1 team.
Photos: Matthew Murnaghan/Canadian Paralympic Committee