Australia names London 2012 basketball teams
Saturday, 07 July 2012
July 7 - The Australian men's and women's wheelchair basketball teams have been unveiled as the country bids to win medals in both tournaments.
The men's team go into London 2012 as the world's top ranked side, as well as the reigning Paralympic champions.
Brad Ness (pictured above and below, number 15) will captain the 12 man team on his fourth Games appearance.
An experienced selection is complemented by the youth of Paralympic debutants Bill Latham and Jannik Blair.
Australia are also the reigning World Champions after claiming that title in 2010, and if they win in London this will be their third Paralympic gold.
They face the United States, South Africa, Turkey, Spain and Italy in their preliminary group in London.
Coach Ben Ettridge said: "We've drawn the USA and they'll be a tough one, as will Italy and Turkey who have proven their performance on the world stage recently.
"They could give us a good shake while we believe Spain could cause a few upsets and could be quite dangerous.
"The last four years we've been preparing ourselves for this moment and when you look at the work we've done – every player has had game time, gym time, on-court time – we're just ready to get in there and do battle."
The women will be looking for their first Paralympic gold, and will be optimistic of doing so after claiming two silver medals and a bronze in their last three Games.
They have named a vastly seasoned line up, captained by Bridie Kean, who will be competing in her second Paralympics.
Amanda Carter, Sarah Stewart, Tina McKenzie, Kylie Gauci, Katie Hill, Cobi Crispin (pictured below, right), Clare Nott and Shelley Chaplin (pictured below, second left) have 15 Paralympic Games between them and Kean.
Amber Merritt, Leanne del Toso and Sarah Vinci will make their Paralympic debuts.
Australia face the hosts Britain, Brazil, Canada and the Netherlands in the group stage.
"Canada beat us at the World Championships in the bronze medal game and although we've since gotten back on top of them, they will be a tough side to beat, as will the Netherlands, who historically have beaten us by just a few points on a few occasions," said coach John Triscari.
"We've worked really hard to improve the team's shooting percentage, we've had strength and conditioning coaches working with the girls to up their fitness and we've increased the volume of shooting during training.
"Hopefully all the hard work the girls are putting in now, will pay off in London."
Chef de Mission Jason Hellwig said: "Australia has a proud history in wheelchair basketball, having competed in the sport since the first Paralympic Games in 1960.
"More recently, it is a sport that has brought Australia a lot of success and we are hopeful that these two teams can enhance that record further in London.
"It is wonderful for every Roller [man] and Glider [woman] heading to the 2012 Games to know that they are part of a sport with such a rich Paralympic history of which Australia plays a significant role."
May 2012: No easy games for anyone as London 2012 wheelchair basketball fixtures are announced
March 2012: Australian wheelchair basketball stars scoop top gongs at International Player of the Year Awards
February 2012: Australia beat Canada to secure Osaka Cup in Japan
February 2012: Rollers take nothing for granted in run up to London 2012
January 2012: David Gold - Wheelchair basketball draw makes it feel like London 2012 really has started