September 18, 2016
USA Wheelchair Rugby Edged by Australia in Double Overtime, Earns Silver at Paralympics; Japan Gets Bronze
Photo: Team USA/USA Wheelchair Rugby
Team USA and Canada renewed their rivalry in the first Wheelchair Rugby semi-final at the Paralympic Games with the USA winning 60-55. The USA are undefeated in the Paralympics and are ranked first in the world. They play second ranked Australia for the Gold Medal, who beat Japan in the other semi-final 63-57. Australia is also undefeated at the Paralympics.
In the Bronze Medal game, Japan took a 17-13 lead over Canada. Japan used their offensive threat of Daisuke Ikezaki and Ike Yukinobu and their defense to garner 4 steals. Zac Madell was the offensive force for Canada, but Japan forced a couple of turnovers on him.
In the second period, Japan continued to use their passing game to free up one of their offensive threats. Canada matched Japan’s attack and at halftime the score was 29-25.
In the third period, Zac Mazell used physical play to create two Japan turnovers as Canada narrowed the lead 40-38. Trevor Hirschfield’s passing to Mike Whitehead and then to Zac Madell to score was a prevalent Canada strategy. Madell continued to be Canada’s go to scorer. Japan substituted Shinichi Shimakawa for Ike Yukinobu for their second offensive option to Daisuke Ikezaki, but Ikezaki dominated the scoring during the period.
The final period saw Japan creating a couple of key turnovers and then managing the clock to take the Bronze with a 52-50 win. This was Japan’s first medal, as they finished fourth at London. Canada in finishing fourth did not medal for the first time since Sydney.
Japan had a two players that they could turn to for their offense in Ikezake with 19 and Yukinobu with 18 goals. Six players different players scored for Japan. Canada will need to find another scorer in the future, but Zac Madell dominated the scoring for Canada with 35 goals, while Mike Whitehead had six goals.
Japan also had 7 steals, less penalties, defensive fouls and turnovers, which also lead to their win.
Both the USA and Australia thrilled the capacity crowd of 14,000 in a titanic Gold Medal battle as Australia held off the USA in the final seconds of double overtime 59-58. Both teams left everything on the court and should be applauded for their valor. With the win, Australia defends the Gold that they won in London.
The first period saw both teams jocking back and forth and the period ending at 12 all.
By the end of the second, 7 USA players had scored to 5 for Australia. At one point Australia had a three point lead as Ryley Batt created two turnovers before Aoki created one. Jayden Warn crated an interesting dynamic with his speed and physical play for Australia in the brief time he was on the court. Australia’s main threats were Batt and Chris Bond.
The USA had more even scoring as Kody Puderbaugh asserted himself as he tied Chuc k Aoki with 7 goals in the half with Josh Brewer having 5. The USA reached deep down to be only one point down at halftime, 26-25 to Australia.
Period three saw the USA quickly score to tie the game. The USA crashed into Batt with every opportunity to disrupt his impact on the game. Wheel changes seemed to occur indefinitely for him as a result. Chuck Aoki was able to turn the ball over from Batt and a pass to Puderbaugh gave the USA a lead and was quickly opended to two points as Eric Newby scored. An Aoki errant pass had Australia right back in tying the game at 31 all. The rest of the period was a seesaw battle that ended with the game being tied at 37 all.
The final period in regulation had Nazim Erdeen, in his fifth Paralympic games, doing an outstanding defensive effort. The Australia combination of Batt and Bond saw the later earning the first score of the period. Australia was using a combination of power and pace throughout the game, but making a number of errors. Meanwhile a key player for the USA, Chuck Aoki used deceptiveness to score when it looked like the Australia defense was impenetrable.
A key moment during the final period occurred when both Aoki and Wheeler were pinned in and this created a turnover. Australia used this to take a two point lead. Batt could then not reel in a long throw to take a commanding three point lead. Credit the USA to fight right back to tie the game at 48 all after a Batt defensive foul. A Bond goal then reclaimed the lead, but an Aoki to Brewer pass for a score tied the match at the end of regulation at 49.
There would be three minutes of extra time to play. The USA scored first to open extra time on a Josh Brewer to Chuck Aoki pass to score. Brewer would continue to create scoring opportunities for Aoki and that was also reciprocated during first extra time period. Batt and Bond matched the USA threat and the period ended at 54 all.
The second overtime saw Australia taking advantage of an Aoki turnover in not being able to corral Brewer’s tip to start the period, but the USA continued to match Australia’s scores. With 49 seconds remaining in the second overtime, a Bond pass to Batt took a 59-58 lead. Australia then defended well putting the USA under pressure as both Aoki and Wheeler were tied up before Aoki got the ball and called timeout with 15 seconds remaining. The ball was inbounded to Aoki who passed to Chuck Melton and on to Josh Wheeler for an apparent score to tie the match. The referee had other thoughts, as he indicated no goal as Wheeler had crossed the line prior to taking the pass. Australia inbounded the ball and Batt threw it up as Australia was golden.
The USA was gutted with the loss, but still picked up the Silver Medal and has medaled at all five Paralympic Games. They have two golds, a silver and two bronzes.
Team USA Game & Ranking 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 60-55 Canada
- Sep 17- 2nd Semi-final Australia 63-57 Japan
- Sep 17 – 7th Place France 57-54 Brazil
- Sep 17 – 5th Place Great Britain 56-42 Sweden
- Sep 18- Bronze medal Japan 52-50 Canada
- Sep 18 -Gold medal- Australia 59-58 USA in double overtime (49 all at end regulation)
Team USA has had a great deal of success at Paralympic competition. It has 26-3 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. They now add a Silver medal in Rio.
Please check the USA Wheelchair Rugby web page for match recaps, scores and stats on usawr.org.
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
Australia: Ryley Batt (3.5), Chris Bond (3.5), Cameron Carr (2.0), Andrew Edmondson (2.0), Nazim Erdem (0.5), Ben Fawcett (0.5), Andrew Harrison (2.0) Joshua Hose (3.0), Jason Lees (1.0), Matt Lewis (3.5), Ryan Scott (0.5), Jayden Warn (3.0)
It should be noted that while wheelchair rugby is a co-ed sport, that Canada’s Miranda Biletski is the only female that has been selected to compete at the Paralympics in Wheelchair Rugby.
Canada: Miranda Biletski (1.0), Cody Caldwell (2.0), Ian Chan 2.5), Patrice Dagenais (1.0), Byron Green (0.5), Trevor Hirschfield (1.0), Fabien Lavoie (3.0) Zak Madell (3.5), Travis Murao (2.0), Patrice Simand (1.5), Mike Whitehead (3.0), David Willsie (2.0)
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.”
DJCoil Rugby Paralympics Wheelchair Rugby articles: