Canadian men finish strong in wheelchair basketball loss to Turkey at U23 worlds

·2 min read
Canada head coach Darrell Nordell played Collin Lalonde, pictured, for the final 10 minutes of Monday's game against Turkey and he responded with a team-high 11 points, three assists and three rebounds in a 82-40 loss at the under-23 wheelchair basketball world championship in Phuket, Thailand. (Submitted by Wheelchair Basketball Canada - image credit)
Canada head coach Darrell Nordell played Collin Lalonde, pictured, for the final 10 minutes of Monday's game against Turkey and he responded with a team-high 11 points, three assists and three rebounds in a 82-40 loss at the under-23 wheelchair basketball world championship in Phuket, Thailand. (Submitted by Wheelchair Basketball Canada - image credit)

Still searching for their first win, Canada's men continue to progress on the court and impress their coach at the under-23 wheelchair basketball world championship.

Monday's 82-40 loss to Turkey was their fourth straight to open the tournament in Phuket, Thailand, but they did score 17 points in the final quarter after trailing 64-23 through three.

"By far, that was probably our best game," Canada head coach Darrell Nordell told Wheelchair Basketball Canada. "The score is not indicative of how much improvement is happening with our athletes on the court."

Canada will finish group play on Tuesday at 3 a.m. ET against France, which hasn't won in Thailand.

"They had a rest day today, so I fully expect they'll be ready and prepared to play tomorrow, knowing neither side has won a game," Nordell said. "Our matchup is good. They do have two tall players, but their system is not much different from ours.

"Our next three games dictate how we want to finish in the tournament. We want to have a good game against France and get into the relegation round, and where do we want to place between ninth and 12th?"

Shooting 29 per cent from the field compared to Turkey's 52 per cent success rate was Canada's downfall.

Lalonde finds his groove

Collin Lalonde scored a team-high 11 points for the Canadians and added three assists and three rebounds. Garrett Ostepchuk chipped in 10 points and five rebounds, while Reed De'Aeth had nine points and four rebounds.

Lalonde stepped up with additional playing time as Nordell played him the final 10 minutes of the contest.

"I said to assistant coach Christian LaSerra, 'We need to find a way to get Collin in his groove," Nordell said.

Turkey outscored Canada 27-7 in the second quarter to take a 48-19 lead into halftime.

Ostepchuk and De'Aeth scored four points to pace the Canadian attack in the first quarter, won 21-12 by Turkey.

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

Player 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