Podiums set for new look at World Championships

When the dust settles on July’s 2014 Men’s IWBF Wheelchair Basketball World Championships in Incheon, South Korea, it will be a new-look podium according to Great Britain’s captain Abdi Jama. 05 Jun 2014
Abdi Jama

Abdi Jama captained Great Britain's men's team at the 2013 IWBF European Wheelchair Basketball Championships in Frankfurt, Germany.

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By Joel Mackenzie | for the IPC

With reigning Paralympic Champions Canada missing out on qualification for the first time since the tournament’s inception, Jama believes the tournament’s winner could come from anywhere.

“This one could be open to anyone; we’ll be competitive, so will Australia, Turkey and the USA,” said Jama of the 16 team tournament which will take place between 5-14 July.

An inevitable changing of the guard at Canada post their London 2012 success, which included the retirements of Patrick Anderson, Joey Johnson and Richard Peter, opens the door for the next generation of superstars, not just from Canada, but around the world.

Given Canada’s absence, Jama a veteran of eight years, hinted that we could be entering a period where the sport is dominated by European nations, partly because of the success of professional European leagues.

“The domestic leagues Turkey, Spain, Germany and Italy are the best in world basketball,” said Jama who captained the British side to European success last year in Frankfurt, Germany.

“Turkey and Spain especially are two emerging teams and I think they’ve really helped them become good teams.

“For us, we don’t get to play together that much but we do have almost everyone in the squad play in these leagues throughout Europe and it’s really helped to fast track some of our players.”

Despite Jama’s belief that European teams will do well in Incheon, defending world champions and London 2012 silver medallists Australia will start at many peoples favourites for gold in Incheon.

In the women’s draw, Dutch superstar star Inge Huitzing says we should expect similar results to London 2012 when their World Championships get underway later this month in Toronto, Canada.

“I would say Germany, Australia and the Netherlands will all be competing for the medals at these Championships but the top five teams are hard to split,” said Huitzing.

“The USA and Canada always give us really hard games.

“We haven’t seen the USA since the Paralympic Games in London but they are always a great team”.

Huitzing and the Netherlands will be striving towards eclipsing their previous best finish of fourth at a World Championships (1994), and the veteran of two Paralympic Games says that while the Netherlands will enter the Championship full of confidence, they cannot afford to become complacent after defeating reigning Paralmypic champions Germany in the 2013 European Championships.

“We have excellent coaching staff with a lot of wheelchair basketball knowledge and they are very good at getting us ready for the next challenge.

“The biggest change for us is we’ve recently started having combined training sessions with our men’s team which has really increased the level of intensity at practice.”

The 2014 IWBF Wheelchair Basketball World Championships for women will take place between 20-28 June and will feature 12 teams split into two pools of six.