Numerous Illini compete in Day 1 of Paralympic wheelchair basketball

Out of the 13 current and former Illini that competed Thursday in wheelchair basketball, one player stood out of the pack. That player was Patrick Anderson of Canada.

Anderson finished with 32 points, 13 rebounds and three assists in 28 minutes of action in a 68-53 win over Japan in Group B Preliminary play. Anderson led all scorers on Thursday, shooting a sizzling 15 of 21 from the field.

The two other Illini on Team Canada, Adam Lancia and Brandon Wagner, finished with two points and zero points, respectively. Lancia played 15 minutes while Wagner played in 9 minutes of action.

In a losing effort against Anderson’s Canadian squad, Illini Hiroaki Kozai of Japan finished with nine points, three rebounds and five assists in 26 minutes.

Australia, featuring two Illini, scored the most points on the day, defeating South Africa 93-39. Neither Illini had a huge impact in the game, with Grant Mizens scoring two points and Dylan Alcott dishing out two assists but failing to score. Justin Eveson led Australia with 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Another game featuring Illini players was during the game of the day, Australia versus Brazil on the women’s side. Australia edged Brazil 52-50, led by Cobi Crispin who finished with 18 points, three rebounds and seven assists. Team captain and Illini Bridie Kean finished with two points and five rebounds in 14 minutes of action. Another Illini, Shelley Chaplin, failed to score in 20 minutes.

The U.S. men and womens’ wheelchair basketball teams had very different days. On the women’s side, the U.S. dominated France 63-24 in Group B preliminary play. France shot only 21 percent from the field and turned the ball over 21 times. Rebecca Murray led the U.S. in scoring with 23 points, but other Illini also contributed to the big win. U.S. team captain Sarah Castle didn’t score, but grabbed five rebounds and dished out two assists in 16 minutes of play. Jennifer Chew, also an Illini, didn’t score either but contributed with two rebounds and two assists in 11 minutes. The men’s U.S. side left Day One less thrilled.

Turkey knocked off the U.S. 59-50 on Thursday, led by Cem Gezinci, who finished with 15 points and 17 rebounds. Turkey outshot the U.S., making 50 percent of their field goals compared to the 31 percent shooting by the Americans. Will Waller, captain of the U.S. and a former Illini, finished with six points and six rebounds in a losing effort. Steve Serio, also of Illinois, didn’t score in the game during 11 minutes of play. Joseph Chambers led the U.S. with 17 points and nine assists.

The U.S. men will face off against Italy on Friday, while the women will match up against Germany.

_Michael can be reached at [email protected]_