September 17, 2016
USA Wheelchair Rugby Edges Japan in Extra Time to Win Pool
Photo: Team USA/USA Wheelchair Rugby
Team USA and Japan each entered the final pool match undefeated at the Paralympic Games in Rio. The USA was ranked number one in the world while Japan was number three. The USA had wins against France 51-42 and against Sweden 54-44. Japan entered the match with a 50-42 win over Sweden and then beat France 57-52.
The U.S. emerged with a 57-56 overtime victory and move on to the semi-finals against Canada , who lost in overtime to Australia 63-62. Australia will play Japan in the other semi-final.
The match against Japan was a close match for its entirety. Japan opened the scoring and took a 15-14 lead at the end of the first period. Each team was on their game and had one turnover.
Chuck Aoki, who played the entire match, opened the scoring in the second period. The USA had a two point lead on a turnover, but Japan narrowed the score with a last second goal prior to halftime. Team USA held a 27-26 lead.
During the third period both teams played excellent defense and took advantage of their offensive opportunities. At the end of the period, the game was tied 39 all.
The USA began the final period with a lineup of Chuck Aoki, Josh Wheeler, Chuck Melton and Jeff Butler, with Seth McBride quickly substituting for Melton and seeing his first match time of the night. The seesaw battle continued and at the end of regulation it was 51 all. Both teams had four turnovers at the end of regulation.
Overtime continued to be a battle and until with less than five seconds remaining, Josh Wheeling executed a long pass that Aoki gathered and went in for the winning score. USA defended the closing seconds to take a 57-56 victory.
USA Coach James Gumbert said that “The passion that this team played with is just amazing to see. Nobody gave up, nobody gave up on each other. We played as one, this kind of win gives us a lot of confidence going into the semi finals.”
In the other pool B match, Sweden beat France 55-47 for third place in the pool. In the other pool, Great Britain defeating host Brazil 52-32.
On Saturday, the match schedule is Brazil v France for 7th place, the USA plays Canada in the first semi-final and will then be followed by Australia against Japan in the other semi-final. Great Britain plays Sweden for fifth place in the last match of the night.
The Paralympics Wheelchair Rugby has shaped up to find the top four seeds playing in the semi-finals on Saturday and will decide who will play for the Gold and Bronze on Sunday. Great Britain played their hearts out with two narrow losses in their first two games and will leave the Games knowing they might have been in the semi-finals and battling for a medal.
Team USA Game Schedule
- Sep 14 USA 51-42 France
- Sep 15- USA 54-44 Sweden
- Sep 16- USA 57-56 Japan-Extra time
- Sep 17- 1st Semi-final USA v Canada 12:45pm local (11:45am ET)
- Sep 17- 2nd Semi-final Australia v Japan 4pm local (3pm ET)
- Sep 18- Bronze medal- 9am local (8am ET)
- Sep 18 -Gold medal- 12:30pm local (11:30am ET)
Team USA has had a great deal of success at Paralympic competition. It has 26-2 record earning Gold Medals in Sydney in 200 and in Bejing in 2008. They also earned Bronze Medals in Athens in 2004 and in London in 2012. Currently the USA is ranked number one in the world by the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation rankings after they won the Canada Cup.
Also check NBC Sports for their broadcast schedule.
Team USA: 2 Chuck Melton (2.0), 3 Adam Scaturro (1.5), 5 Chuck Aoki (3.0), 6 Jeff Butler (0.5), 7 Jason Regier (0.5), 9 Eric Newby 2.0), 10 Josh Wheeler 2.5), 11 Seth McBride (2.0), 12 Chad Cohn (1.0), 15 Lee Fredette (1.0), 20 Josh Brewer (3.5), 22 Kory Puderbaugh (3.0), Coach James Gumbert
Japan: Masayuki Haga (2.0), Ike Yukinobu (3.0), Daisuke Ikezaki (3.0), Tomaki Imai (1.0), Kazuhiko Kanno (2.0), Kotaro Kishi (0.5), Shin Nakazoto (2.5) Seiya Norimatsu (1.5), Shinichi Shimakawa (3.0), Takeshi Shoji (2.0), Hidefumi Wakayama (1.0), Takahisu Yamaguchi (1.0)
Wheelchair Rugby Basics by the U.S. Paralympics have made it easier to understand viewing wheelchair rugby at the Paralympics in Rio.
“The objectives of wheelchair rugby is for a player to carry a ball across the opponent’s goal line in order to score a point. A volleyball is used and must be bounced or passed between teammates at least once every 10 seconds during play. The sport is played in four eight-minute stop-time quarters indoors on a basketball court. All players are classified based on their abilities from 0.5 to 3.5 points. Four players from each team are allowed on the court at a time and the classification value between them can not exceed eight points.”
“Paralympic wheelchair rugby competition is open to male and female athletes with physical disabilities, such as amputation/limb loss, spinal cord injury/wheel-chair users and cerebral palsy/brain injury/stroke.”
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