Canada drops men's U23 wheelchair basketball worlds opener to Brazil

·2 min read
Garrett Ostepchuk paced Canada with 14 points in its 59-39 loss to Brazil to open the men's under-23 wheelchair basketball world championship on Wednesday. (Submitted by Wheelchair Basketball Canada - image credit)
Garrett Ostepchuk paced Canada with 14 points in its 59-39 loss to Brazil to open the men's under-23 wheelchair basketball world championship on Wednesday. (Submitted by Wheelchair Basketball Canada - image credit)

Canada dropped its opening game 59-39 to Brazil at the men's under-23 wheelchair basketball world championship on Wednesday in Thailand.

Garrett Ostepchuk, one of two holdovers from the 2017 team that placed sixth in Toronto, led Canada with 14 points, five rebounds and three assists. The team missed all six of its three-point attempts.

Head coach Darrell Nordell said nerves may have played a factor in the loss.

"I knew we were in tough already coming into this tournament not getting the reps we typically get leading into tournaments. Hopefully the first game jitters are out. We missed early shots inside, we missed our foul shots and our layups," Nordell said.

Despite an early 5-0 deficit, Canada hung tough and entered the second quarter down by just two points. Nordell pointed to Josh Brown, who came off the bench midway through the period and collected nine points, as a standout.

"That's probably the best I've seen him play in the years I've been around him coaching. He played well, he was a great spark," he said.

Brazil pulled away in the second quarter, extended its lead to 13 points by halftime and never looked back en route to victory.

Canada's second of five group-stage matches is scheduled for Friday at 5:15 a.m. ET against Spain.

"I do expect Spain to press us so we do need to be prepared for that," Nordell said. "We need to make our decisions quicker and faster — that goes with our reads and our passing has to be better."

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. 9 (5:15 a.m. ET) Canada vs. Spain

  • Sept. 10 (10:30 p.m. ET) Canada vs. Japan

  • 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