Canada drops 3rd straight to open men's U23 wheelchair basketball worlds

·3 min read
Reed De'Aeth, pictured, had a game-high 20 points along with seven rebounds and three assists in Canada's third straight loss at the men's under-23 wheelchair basketball world championship, 69-38 to Japan on Sunday in Phuket, Thailand. (Submitted by Wheelchair Basketball Canada - image credit)
Reed De'Aeth, pictured, had a game-high 20 points along with seven rebounds and three assists in Canada's third straight loss at the men's under-23 wheelchair basketball world championship, 69-38 to Japan on Sunday in Phuket, Thailand. (Submitted by Wheelchair Basketball Canada - image credit)

Reed De'Aeth's standout performance against Japan wasn't enough to help Canada to its first win at the men's under-23 wheelchair basketball world championship in Phuket, Thailand.

De'Aeth, from Sherwood Park, Alta., scored a game-high 20 points and added seven rebounds and three assists in Sunday's 69-38 loss to Japan, Canada's third in a row to open the tournament.

"That's kind of what we expect from Reed every game. We need that scoring from both inside and outside because once he can score inside, he can draw more people out for us," Canada head coach Darrell Nordell said in a statement to Wheelchair Basketball Canada.

Japan held quarter leads of 20-8, 32-10 and 55-20.

On a positive note, the Canadians outscored their opponent 18-14 in the fourth quarter.

"We took a timeout midway through the third quarter and said, 'Hey, what kind of basketball do we want to finish with?'" Nordell said.

"Do we want to continue to let Japan's lead get bigger, or do we want to start working on the things we've been doing in practice: creating the space, creating better angles not only to pick but also to pass, and then making sure we can get to spots where we can get a mismatch for Reed.

"We just started shooting. We started becoming comfortable in our shooting. Reed was taking a breath, he was sitting up nice and straight, he was looking at his target, and he was following through."

Turkey tall, 'aggressive'

Canada shot 34 per cent from the field compared to 46 per cent by Japan, which scored 40 points in the paint.

The Canadians face a tall squad from Turkey on Monday at 12:45 a.m. ET

"Very much similar to playing Spain," Nordell said. "They'll be as aggressive as Spain and they upset Spain on Saturday."

Josh Brown had six points and five rebounds in a losing cause, while Nordell lauded the play of his teammate Garrett Ostepchuk, who chipped in six points and four rebounds.

"Garrett is really playing within the moment for the number of minutes he's been playing," said the coach. "Really appreciative of how G is leading the team."

Canada fell behind 4-0 early in the first quarter but battled back to make it a two-point game with 3:49 remaining. But the Japanese came out of a timeout and went on a 10-0 run to open a 20-8 advantage.

They increased the margin to 32-10 at halftime and outscored the Canadians 8-0 to open the second half to make it a 30-point game.

The tournament is typically held every four years, but the 2021 edition was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canada last reached the podium in 2001, its second straight gold medal after the inaugural tournament in 1997.

Canada's remaining schedule

  • Sept. 12 (12:45 a.m. ET) Canada vs. Turkey

  • Sept. 13 (3 a.m. ET) Canada vs. France

Canada's roster

  • Reed De'Aeth — Sherwood Park, Alta.

  • Collin Lalonde — St-Clet, Que.

  • Lionel Tamoki — Montreal

  • Gabriel Giguere — Drummondville, Que.

  • Austin MacLellan — Fredericton, N.B.

  • Josh Brown — East St. Paul, Man.

  • Ben Hagkull — Chilliwack, B.C.

  • Garrett Ostepchuk — Regina

  • Matthew Norris — Winnipeg

  • Mathew Wilton — Langley, B.C.

  • Joel Ewart — Prince George, B.C.

  • Kyrell Sopotyk — Saskatoon