“We are going to continue to track and assess this outstanding group of talent over the next several months to select a World Championships team this summer that positions us for success.”
The US men’s national wheelchair basketball team for 2018 has been named and it features 10 Rio 2016 champions.
The squad of 17 was selected following a four-day selection camp at the Olympic Training Centre in Colorado Springs. In May, 12 of the 17 athletes will be selected to compete at the 2018 IWBF World Championships in Hamburg, Germany, which take place between 16-26 August.
Ahead of the 16-team World Championships Team USA will prepare with a variety of training camps and friendly competitions.
The road to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics for wheelchair basketball started in 2017 with the America’s Zonal Qualifying tournament, where Team USA claimed a gold medal after defeating Canada. In 2019, the US Team will compete at the Para Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru. The quadrenium will close out with the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Rio 2016 co-captains Steve Serio and Mike Paye return to the squad. Serio, a three-time Paralympian (2008, 2012, 2016), paced the United States in Rio from the point and has earned two consecutive Paralympic medals (2012 bronze, 2016 gold). Paye, also a three-time Paralympian (2004, 2008, 2016), is the contributor in a variety of looks for the US men.
Matt Scott returns in an attempt to make a fifth consecutive US Paralympic Team. Scott has seen action on the big stage since the Athens 2004 Paralympics, and has earned two Paralympic medals in 2012 and 2016. Two-time Paralympic medallist Ian Lynch also returns to the squad. Both are versatile players on defence and offense.
Two-time Paralympic medallists Nate Hinze and Trevon Jenifer have returned to the US men’s national team after taking a year off following the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Four members of the 2016 gold-medal team return and are looking towards their second appearance at the 2020 Paralympics, and all earned a silver medal at the 2014 World Championships. Leading the quartet is Brian Bell, Jared Arambula, Aaron Gouge and Jake Williams.
Also joining the Paralympians will be: John Boie, Ryan Neiswender, Jorge Salazar and Jorge Sanchez. Neiswender and Sanchez were members of the 2013 and 2017 Americas' Qualifier teams. This is Salazar’s third national team selection camp, and was a member of the gold-medal winning 2017 Americas' Qualifier. Salazar is a member of the NWBA’s San Diego Wolfpack, who is a perennial contender for a national championship.
A trio of NWBA Collegiate Division players were named to their first U.S. Men’s National Team: Tyler Buysee, Dylan Fischbach and Fabian Romo.
“We have a lot of talent in the United States and this was a tough decision to identify the national team. Since Wednesday, the athletes were focused and showed a high level of intensity, and this is one of the best prepared group of athletes we have evaluated in recent years,” said US men’s Head Coach Ron Lykins. “We are going to continue to track and assess this outstanding group of talent over the next several months to select a World Championships team this summer that positions us for success.”
Lykins returns to lead Team USA. Lykins has coached three US Paralympic gold-medal teams (2004 women; 2008 women; 2016 men). Joining Lykins on the sidelines will be assistant coaches Robb Taylor and John Sikora. Scott Meyer is the team leader, with Mary Vacala serving as the Athletic Trainer. The Team Physician is Dr. Gloria Beim.
Team USA qualified for the 2018 World Championships by winning the 2017 America’s Zonal Qualifier in Cali, Colombia. The US men last lost in the 2014 World Championships, where they claimed a silver medal. At the 2015 ParaPan Am Games, Team USA cruised to the gold medal.
Team USA has brought home a medal at all World Championships, including six gold medals, four silver medals, and one bronze medal. Team USA has played for the gold medal in 10 of the 11 IWBF World Championships.