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13 August 2015

Day 5 recap - Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games

USA's Chuck Aoki celebrates victory - Photo courtesy Loren Worthington: worthingtonvisuals.com

By Nathan Bragg

Yesterday’s final day of robin robin matches saw the United States extend their unbeaten run at the Parapan Am Games with a thrilling double overtime victory over Canada, while Brazil and Colombia ensured their place in the semifinals with confident victories.

Brazil 45 Chile 6
Play opened with Brazil blowing out winless Chile to secure the 3rd seed in the semifinals. Chile dropped to a key defense in the first quarter to try and slow Brazil down, but the higher ranked kept finding gaps to score, while racking up turnovers on the other end with ease. Brazil continued their strong passing as multiple players carried the scoring load which pleased coach Luis Pena.

Brazil will meet Canada in the semifinals in an important game for them in their preparation to host the Paralympics next summer, while Chile will face Argentina in their last chance for a win to determine 5th/6th place.

Colombia 51 Argentina 36
Colombia booked their place in the semifinals of the Parapan Am Games with a strong second half to put away Argentina.

Both teams started the match strong. Colombia jumped out to an early 8-4 lead, but Argentina responded with five straight goals to take the lead, Colombia then rallied back and took a 12-11 lead into the first intermission. The second quarter was much of the same as both pressed each other hard and put on a show for the fans. Colombia had the lead at halftime 27-25 and had forced Argentina to use all of their floor timeouts.

Jhon Orozco led all scorers with 27 goals and caused Argentina fits all game and really broke out in the second half as they started to open up a big lead allowing their bench to get into the game after Colombia outscored Argentina 16-6 in the 3rd quarter.

After the game against USA, Colombian head coach Jhonathan Rojas Vargas said improving the team’s defense would be the key to victory against Argentina and his players took the words to heart forcing Argentina into 26 turnovers, a handful of 12 second violations and many difficult passess.

The victory marked Colombia’s first win over Argentina and Colombian captain Carlos Neme Montoya who has been a rock at the four spot for Colombia, was ecstatic with the result.

“To make the semifinals, I don’t have the words for this feeling,” he said with large smile.

Colombia will meet the United States in today’s semifinal, while a disapointed Argentina will face Chile for 5th/6th place.

United States 60 Canada 59 20T
In the most anticipated game of round robin play, it was the United States who claimed the newest chapter in the legendary rivalry in front of a fantastic and energetic Canadian crowd last night.

Both sides came out full of intensity with the United States taking an early 3-1 lead off of a Canadian turnover. Zak Madell and the Canadians answered back and took a 14-12 lead after the first quarter.

In the second quarter the Canadian defense came out strong as both sides tried out different lineups. At the end of the first half it was 27-24 for Canada.

American coach James Gumbert said at halftime he simply told his players to “believe” and believe they did as they came back in the second half and managed to outscore Canada 12-10 in the third frame, before a Chuck Aoki goal tied it up to open the fourth off a Madell turnover.

Madell led all scorers with with 28 goals but the Americans did well forcing him to offload the ball then go and get it and often denying him the inbound pass with a double or triple team. Ernie Chun and Chad Cohn were two standout defenders for the United States.

The two sides traded goals throughout the fourth quarter in a fast-paced uptempo style and with under two minutes to go, a ten second violation on a Canadian inbound gave the United States a 2 point lead but Zak Madell and Mike Whitehead answered back by pushing Josh Wheeler out of bounds.

Canada managed to score with 55 seconds left on the clock to tie up the game at 50 and give them a shot at last goal. The USA scored with 38 seconds on the clock and pushed Mike Whitehead in for the score leaving the USA with seven seconds and a shot at last goal, but an Aoki pass to Wheeler didn’t connect sending the game into overtime.

The first overtime went back and forth and Zak Madell got in one goal with three seconds left, but just as a Canadian victory seemed certain. American Eric Newby who only saw limited minutes against Canada at last year’s world championships knocked the ball loose at the line to force a second period of overtime.

In the second overtime the teams continued to trade goals and the Americans strategically managed the clock by calling a timeout with 26 seconds left to get a fresh 15 seconds on the shot clock and Newby managed to score with only three seconds on the clock off a nice assist from Aoki.

Trevor Hirschfield then inbounded the ball to Madell and called a timeout with one second left to set up a hail mary pass for the tie. Whitehead got the pass into the key area and towards Madell, but Aoki managed to get a hand on the ball and swat it away to secure the American victory.

After the loss Canadian captain Trevor Hirschfield said that this team might have underestimated the United States’ resolve.

“We got up and we couldn’t hold that, I think that we underestimated how much they’d fight back, “he said. “Hopefully, come Friday it’s a different outcome.”

Coach Gumbert credited his team’s depth with the win and said that he expects the same type of back and forth game on Friday in the gold medal game.

Chuck Aoki’s led USA 26 goals and spent much of the game shadowing Madell on the defensive end. Leaving the court with a smile on his face, he validated his earlier comments that “nothing would make him happier than beating Canada in Canada.”

Canada will face Brazil and the USA will face Columbia in today’s semifinals and barring major upset, the two titans should meet again for gold and a berth next year’s Paralympics on Friday.

Today Games
3:30PM EST: Argentina vs. Chile. 5th/6th place
5:45PM EST: Canada vs. Brazil. Semi Final
8:00PM EST: United States vs. Columbia. Semi Final


PAll games will be webcast live and can be watched live at IWRF.com.