Canada fell 82-40 to Turkey on Monday at the IWBF Men’s U23 Wheelchair Basketball World Championship in Phuket, Thailand.

“By far, that was probably our best game,” said Darrell Nordell, Men’s Under-23 Head Coach. “The score is not indicative of how much improvement is happening with our athletes on the court.”

Collin Lalonde had a team-high 11 points and added three assists and three rebounds for Canada in the loss. Garrett Ostepchuk chipped in 10 points and five rebounds, and Reed De’Aeth contributed nine points and four rebounds.

Ben Hagkull and Lionel Tamoki each had four points in the loss.

“We played Collin the final 10 minutes, and I said to assistant coach Christian LaSerra, ‘We need to find a way to get Collin in his groove, so we’re going to play him for the full 10 minutes,’” Nordell explained. “Our next three games dictate how we want to finish in the tournament. We’ve got one more game in the round-robin; France hasn’t won a game yet either. We want to have a good game against France and get into the relegation round, and where do we want to place between ninth and 12th? These next three games are really important, so we wanted Collin to get in his groove.”

Despite trailing by 41 through three, Canada battled in the fourth, scoring 17 of its 40 in the final period. Team Canada finished shooting 16 of 55 from the field, while Turkey shot 52 per cent from the field and scored 60 points in the paint.

Turkey opened the second half out-scoring Canada 16-4 and held a 64-23 advantage heading into the fourth.

Turkey out-scored Canada 27-7 in the second quarter and held a 48-19 lead at halftime. De’Aeth led all Canadian scorers with nine points through three quarters, Ostepchuk had six, while Hagkull and Josh Brown had two points each.

Ostepchuk and De’Aeth scored four points, each pacing the Canadians, who trailed Turkey by nine, 21-12, after one period.

Canada will conclude group play on Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 3:00 am ET when they tip-off against France. The game can be live streamed on the IWBF’s YouTube channel.

“They are playing with a group of about six athletes,” said Nordell. “They had a rest day today, so I fully expect they’ll be ready and prepared to play tomorrow, knowing neither side has won a game yet. Our matchup is good, they do have two tall players, but their system is not much different from ours.”

The IWBF Men’s U23 Wheelchair Basketball World Championship is typically held every four years, with 12 countries participating. This year’s tournament will be the seventh edition of the event. It is the first U23 tournament since 2017, which Toronto hosted, and Great Britain won.

To be eligible to participate, male players must be born on or after Jan. 1, 1999. The IWBF is maintaining the same age category as if the event was held in 2021 to ensure athletes wouldn’t lose their eligibility due to the postponement of last year’s tournament.

Full stats from Monday’s game can be found here.

Press release & photo: Wheelchair Basketball Canada

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