Rollers World Challenge team announced

Rollers World Challenge team announced

Basketball Australia can announce the 14 athletes selected to represent Australia at the Rollers World Challenge from July 29 - August 1 at Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre.

Nine Paralympic Gold medallists will suit up for Australia’s Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team at the event to represent their country on home soil for the first time since their 2008 Beijing triumph, including captain Brad Ness and five-time Paralympian Troy Sachs.

The international tournament will feature the three medal winning teams from the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games (Australia – gold, Canada – silver, Great Britain – bronze) as well as Asian powerhouse Japan.

Rollers Head Coach Ben Ettridge said all three opposing teams will be prepared and would provide tough competition for the Australians.

“With Great Britain you always expect a very well drilled team and Japan is always good competition; it usually takes us three-quarters to work them out. They play a very different style of basketball than us and it can cause some matchup problems,” Ettridge said.

“Canada are similar to us, they have three or four new players coming into the team from Beijing so we’re expecting that they still come out and play hard and have some quality players. All three teams should be quite a challenge for us.”

Alongside Australia’s nine Paralympians will be Bill Latham, John McPhail, Jeremy Doyle, Colin Smith and Nick Taylor. Coffs Harbour native Latham was the final man cut from the Beijing team but has already won Gold with the Rollers this year at the Paralympic World Cup in May. McPhail and Doyle also cut their teeth at the Manchester event.

A late withdrawal from the team is Beijing medallist Dylan Alcott. The 18-year-old suffered a rotator cuff injury and will undergo minor shoulder surgery, allowing Australian Under-23 representative Colin Smith to make his Rollers’ debut. Another new face in the side is South African-born Taylor who has lived in Australia since 2005 and will be making his Australian representative debut at the tournament.

Ettridge said the Rollers have a deep squad to draw from despite the withdrawal of Alcott.

“Our goal is always to win the next game and we do everything we can to make sure that happens. Given that we have almost a full complement of players to choose from we would be expecting that we would get it right,” Ettridge said.

“Part of the strength of the team is that we play a full 12 (players) and everybody is expected to be ready to play and ready to contribute.”

The Rollers World Challenge tips off at 6.00pm AEST on Wednesday July 29 with a replay of the Beijing Gold medal final between the Australian Rollers and Canada.

ABC TV will broadcast Australia’s three preliminary games and the tournament final live on ABC2.

For more details go to the Rollers World Challenge Website. Tickets are available from Ticketek.

Australia’s Men’s Wheelchair Basketball team for the 2009 Rollers World Challenge
Name / Club / Classification

Brad NESS / Perth Wheelcats /  4.5 (Captain)
Justin EVESON / Perth Wheelcats / 4.5
Troy SACHS / West Sydney Razorbacks / 4.5
Brett STIBNERS / Wollongong Rollerhawks / 4.0
Shaun NORRIS / Perth Wheelcats / 3.0
Michael HARTNETT / Perth Wheelcats / 1.5
Tristan KNOWLES / Wollongong Rollerhawks / 2.0
Adrian KING / Brisbane Spinning Bullets / 2.0
Tige SIMMONS / Brisbane Spinning Bullets / 1.0
Nick TAYLOR / West Sydney Razorbacks / 2.0
Colin SMITH / West Sydney Razorbacks / 1.5
Bill LATHAM / Wentworthville WheelKings / 4.0
John MCPHAIL / West Sydney Razorbacks/ 3.0
Jeremy DOYLE / Wentworthville WheelKings / 1.0

Head Coach: Ben Ettridge
Assistant Coach: Craig Friday
Assistant Coach: Jim Williams
Team Manager: Kelvin Browner
Physiotherapist: James Rahme