The Canadian women’s wheelchair basketball team faced a tough challenge Friday at the World Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Opposed to the Chinese formation and silver medalist at the last Paralympic Games, the troop of Marni Abbott-Peter won 54-50 at the conclusion of the preliminary phase of the tournament.
The watchword of the Canadians was to put a lot of pressure from the start of the match in order to leave little room for maneuver to their opponents, who did not make any personnel changes during the game.
“We wanted to destabilize them in their structure, explained Élodie Tessier to Sportcom. We had to defend them closely and not let them take shots without pressure. If they don’t have to move in attack, they score every time. »
The Maple Leaf players took a 14-10 lead in the first quarter and held their lead until the fourth period. The Chinese, who had still not lost in Dubai, then tried to come back.
They scored eight unanswered points to give themselves a two-point lead with less than four minutes to go. Tara Llanes tied the game, then British Columbian Katy Dandeneau took charge. She had four free throws to bring her total points to 22 and led Canada to victory.
“The Chinese tried to adjust, to no avail. It was still tight the whole game, but in the end, we won every quarter,” added Tessier, who stayed on the court the whole game and had eight points, three rebounds and an assist.
Like Dandeneau, captain Cindy Ouellet scored 22 points, along with nine rebounds and three assists.
Overcoming the finalists of the most recent Paralympic Games gives confidence to the Canadians who will now face the Dutch in the quarter-finals. The reigning world champions and Paralympic champions have dominated their opponents since the start of the World Cup, amassing 443 points scored against only 178 in five games.
“We have to execute well the plan that the coaches are going to prepare and it will be important to take care of each possession. We won’t get a second chance. If the Dutch have a big gap, it will be hard to catch up,” said Élodie Tessier.
The Canadians know the Dutch style of play well, especially since they met them twice rather than once in March, at the Osaka Cup.
“We know how they play, but we can do it!” We have to present our best game and we will work hard to win it as a team. »
On the men’s side, the Canadians fell 68-53 against the Dutch on Friday.
Leading 21-13 after the first quarter, the Dutch basketball players stayed ahead from start to finish to claim their fifth victory of the tournament and remain undefeated.
Jonathan Vermette, Vincent Dallaire and their teammates suffered a second loss. Dallaire finished the game with four points, three rebounds and one steal.
The Canadian team will play in the quarter-finals against Australia on Saturday.