US women’s wheelchair team shoots for three-peat

The back-to-back Parapan American champions expect to meet Canada, again, in the finals. 13 Aug 2015
Two women in wheelchairs defending at a basketball game

The US women's wheelchair basketball team in action against Argentina.

ⒸJon Blacker
By Elin George | For the IPC

"I believe that Team USA does have what it takes. There are a lot of really good teams out there but it is going to be a matter of who does the little things better.”

US Paralympian Rebecca Murray expects her women’s wheelchair basketball team to continue their Parapan success at the Toronto 2015 Games, where Team USA will go for a three-peat.

"I believe that Team USA does have what it takes,” Murray said. “There are a lot of really good teams out there but it is going to be a matter of who does the little things better.”

The USA have been merciless on their first three opponents in Toronto, scoring more than 75 points and holding teams to less than 15. On Thursday’s semi-final game (13 August), US will square off against Brazil, with hope of advancing to the gold-medal game on Friday.

The winner will face the winner of Canada-Argentina, who both also play on Thursday. Last year’s world champion Canada have shown similar strength to the USA during Toronto 2015, averaging more than 75 points per game and winning by more than 30 points.

So it would not be surprising if Friday’s finals featured a classic USA-Canada showdown. But to ensure her team can win their third straight Parapan gold, Murray said there is one key for the 12-member squad.

"I think the success of the team was communication both on and off the court and that no one put individual glory before the team,” the London 2012 Paralympian said. “Everyone on the team seemed to have two goals in mind and those goals were to grow as a team and to win the gold medal.”

Murray, a veteran, is expected to help the team mesh.

At just 17 years old, she made her international debut at the 2007 Parapan Am Games in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, where Team USA defeated Canada 50-44 for the gold. Success was then repeated in Guadalajara 2011, where the USA again met Canada in the gold medal game and took the 69-31 victory.

The stakes are high in Toronto 2015, with all sporting events serving as qualifiers for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. But US women’s coach Stephanie Wheeler is confident the group she brought to Toronto can handle the pressure.

“We feel the team provides us with a lot of versatility on court that will allow us to play different styles of basketball,” Wheeler said. “We feel this mix of vets and young players will be the best athletes to help us achieve our goal in Toronto, which is to qualify for the Rio Paralympic Games."

All wheelchair basketball events are held in the Ryerson Athletic Centre.

For live results and full statistics, please visit the Toronto 2015 website.

A live stream of the Toronto 2015 action will also be available via the IPC website.