Australia have announced a 20-strong men’s squad for the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) Asian Oceania Zonal Championship, due to held in Japan from October 7 to 18.
The Chiba Port Arena is set to stage both men’s and women’s competitions which will decide region’s qualified teams for the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
A total of 12 men’s teams are set to compete at an event where the top three will advance to Rio 2016.
In the women’s tournament only one of the three teams due to take part in Japan will advance to the Games.
The Australian Rollers, as the team are nicknamed, will begin as huge favourites to seal one of the three spots on offer as they head into the tournament as winners of the last two IWBF World Championships.
They first claimed the title in 2010 in Birmingham, retaining the crown four years later in Incheon.
Justin Eveson, Michael Hartnett, Tristan Knowles, Brad Ness, Shaun Norris, Tige Simmons and Brett Stibners formed part of the victorious team in 2010 and have been included as part of the 20-man squad.
They are joined in the squad by Josh Allison, Jannik Blair, Tom O’Neill-Thorne, Luke Pople, Nick Taylor, Adam Deans and Bill Latham, who helped to retain the title have also been selected, with Damon Fent, Michael D’Amelio, Shawn Russell, Michael Auprince, Matt McShane and Sam White completing the list.
“I’m pretty stoked to be selecting from a group with this level of talent,” said Ben Ettridge, head coach of Australian Rollers.
“To have 14 World Champions is great.
“Having guys who have been on the big stage is massive, especially when you have a target on your back like we do now.
“That experience goes a long way but we’ve also put the time and effort into the younger guys coming through to keep the squad right where we want it.”
The Rollers will take part in a training camp in Brazil before heading to the tournament where they are likely to face the threat of Japan, South Korea, Iran and Thailand.