Dylan Cummings’ Commonwealth Games column | Day 3 | Birmingham 2022

Malaysia, Canada, Northern Ireland and Australia showcase strong performances on Day 3.

Malaysia started off the day with a 13-6 win over South Africa to claim 2nd place in their pool. Ahmad Hamzah top scored for his side with 5 points.

Canada’s dominance continued in the women’s competition as they beat hosts England 13-8 to top their pool in a highly anticipated matchup. It was tightly contested for the majority of the game until Canada gained momentum to pull ahead in the last 3 minutes. Tamara Steeves was leading scorer with 7 points.

Post-game Elodie Tessier talked about how Canada’s game plan is to take things on a game-by-game basis.

“Our game plan is just to play basketball and not stress about anything. We’re pretty confident but we want to take things game-by-game, be in the moment and enjoy ourselves.”

Australia and Northern Ireland put on a classic in the men’s competition. Both teams went back and forth in the opening minutes before the Northern Irish had a boost of energy to put them up by 6. That same energy was reciprocated by the Aussies as they started to claw back within the final 3 minutes. However, tough defence from Team NI meant that they claimed a 2-point victory, 11-9.

After the match, James MacSorley elaborated on what it means for Northern Ireland to be on this Commonwealth stage.

“Being able to play in a green vest on the world stage is really really special. Guys like Jason Kennedy, Aubrey Biggum, Paul McKillop, Chris O’Neill and many more have played a big role in developing the Northern Irish wheelchair basketball scene. They deserve so much credit. I wanted to come here with the lads and add to that. I feel incredibly fortunate and slightly overwhelmed with the fact that we’ve done that today. Winning a game in front of 3000 people, playing the game I love with people that sound like me is a really special feeling.”

The final game of the day saw another impressive performance from the Aussie Gliders as they beat South Africa 21-3 to top their pool.

Speaking post-match, Amber Merritt touched on how 2022 has been a renaissance year for the Gliders so far.

“I’m feeling on top of the world. It’s so exciting because for so long the Gliders have simmered at the bottom and now we’re starting to show that we’ve got a lot of talent that’s been working hard behind the scenes. The 4 of us have known each other for 13 years and we’re really starting to show that there’s a dominance within Australian wheelchair basketball. In summary, we’re pretty stoked.”

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Text: Dylan Cummings | Photo: Uli Gasper

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