Australia Names Wheelchair Basketball Squads for London 2012 Qualifier

31 Oct 2011 By IPC

Basketball Australia has announced its men's and women's Wheelchair Basketball squads which will aim to qualify for the London 2012 Paralympic Games at next month’s qualifying tournament in Goyang, South Korea.

Headlining the Rollers, the Austrlian men’s team, are star players Tristan Knowles, Dylan Alcott and Justin Eveson while Kylie Gauci and Cobi Crispin return to action, along with Bridie Kean and newcomer Amber Merritt for the women’s team, the Gliders.

Both teams have to finish in the top two places at the Asia Oceania Regional Championships, which take place from 4-11 November, and are heading into the competition as favourites, being the reigning Asia Oceania Zone Champions.

While Senior National Coach of the Wheelchair Programme, Jan Stirling is confident both sides can qualify, she is not taking anything for granted.

“We think we have a good balanced group and we certainly go in as best prepared as we can. We know that China is a country on the move in terms of the wheelchair game, and we always have wonderful battles with Japan so it won’t be an easy task but we’re certainly looking forward to it,” said Stirling.

According to Stirling, the home nation South Korea is an unknown and as history often shows home-sides can cause even the favourites all kinds of problems.

“No one knows much about Korea at all and I think that’s always fraught with danger when you’re playing against a host nation in any event. So we’ve done our best to get a little bit of information on Korea. They’ve kind of been doing their preparation in house if you like so we have to be prepared to expect the unexpected with Korea,” she said.

According to Head Coach of the Rollers, Ben Ettridge, his side is looking forward to the challenge after a long and measured selection process.

“We’ve gone through some extensive trials in the last 18 months and we’ve had a good look at maybe thirty players who have come through the program at different tournaments and camps,” said Ettridge.

“Every time we get together, it’s a gauge of where we’re at. Sometimes it’s not even on the court where we’re focused – sometimes it’s off the court stuff. Given we’ve had a selection camp with 16 guys together, three or four weeks before we go, we’re hoping that we’re pretty much on song by the second or third day,” he said.

“We’re looking at a playing environment that is not like home. Korea is a very different place to play and live and eat and get around, so it will test the guys with the different challenges they’ll get thrown on a daily basis. And it’s very important for where we want to be heading because, if you get to London, you’re relying on your 12 teammates and staff members to get you through some tough spots.”