Canada shows positive signs in final wheelchair basketball Continental Clash game

Nik Goncin played an average of 25:48 minutes per game at the 2016 Men’s Continental Clash. 

Paralympic rookie Nik Goncin once again delivered a dominant performance on the court, but he and Canadian wheelchair men’s basketball teammates fell 71-53 to Australia at the 2016 Men’s Continental Clash in  Leicester, Great Britain on Tuesday.

Goncin, a native of Regina Saskatchewan, propelled Canada with 18 points and six rebounds. This is the fourth game that Goncin led his team on the scoreboard.

The 24-year-old made a clear statement that he is a player the Team Canada coaching staff can rely upon to be a consistent offensive threat at the Rio Games in September. He averaged 12.5 points, 6.75 assists and 4 assists in this tournament.

While the Australian defence had a tough time handling Goncin, they were very effective at shutting down the rest of the Canadian team. No other Canadian man potted more than six points.

After a back-and-forth first quarter saw the lead change multiple times, Australia took a 16-12 advantage into the first quarter break. The Australians were at their best in the second quarter as they outscored Canada 18-8. Australia also had the edge in points in a highly competitive third and fourth quarter (16-13 and 21-20).

A positive takeaway from this game is that the Canadian team’s field goal shooting was 44 per cent (23-for-52). Their field goal percentage was under 40 for the first four games.

For the fifth straight game, Canada dressed a different starting lineup for this game. Goncin and fellow rookies Ben Moronchuk and Jonathan Vermette, played with veterans Bo Hedges and Chad Jassman. Every man on the Canadian roster, with the exception of co-captain David Eng, had playing time in this contest.

Team Canada leaves this exhibition tournament with a 0-5 record. The Wheelchair Canada brass will hope that the lessons the young team learned at this six-nation competition will help them become a more cohesive unit when the Paralympics begin on September 8.

Photo: Dan Galbraith/Canadian Paralympic Committee

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