In preparation for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the Canadian Senior Men’s National Wheelchair Basketball team travelled to England and France June 10- 16 to compete in nine exhibition games.
If Canada’s overseas trip was any indication of how they will perform in the Paralympics, then Wonowon’s Bo Hedges and his teammates should be on the podium this September.
Canada went 5-0 at the 2012 Continental Clash in Worcester, England then 4-0 in Cluses, France at another exhibition tournament. In England, Canada took on two British teams as well as Spain, then faced France and Great Britain again while in Cluses.
“It’s a good step for sure,” Hedges said about their successful European trip. “We had moments when we played great and we had some issues that we still have to work on but we still got about 10 weeks to come to our peak when we want to, and this gives us time to get better and that’s good to see for sure. Everybody’s playing well.”
“Our plan was to win all the games. Great Britain was the biggest challenge for us, and for us to beat them four times in that span was a pretty big accomplishment for us, because previously when we played them in a series like that they usually win at least one game. There were a couple games that were pretty tough, but we pulled through and were able to pull out the victory against them and not let them win one. So it was a very big step for us for sure.”
At the Continental Clash, Canada decidedly beat Great Britain in their first match 78-46, but their next match was much closer, with Britain leading in the fourth quarter. With time running out, Canada pressed to obtain the lead and Canada’s Dave Durepos sealed the deal to win the game 64-59.
Great Britain, host country of the 2012 Paralympic Games also gave the Canadians a taste of support England will have during the Games.
“Great Britain is a very good quality team and they’re in our pool [at the Paralympics], so we’ll play them our second game of the round robin,” Hedges said.
“It was neat. They had lots of fans out there, 200-300 people out in a small little university gymnasium in Worcester, so they were cheering pretty good and it was a good atmosphere. To beat them there wasn’t the same scale it will be at the Paralympics but the atmosphere was loud, so it was a good opportunity for us to play in that sort of environment.”
The U.S. is another team to watch for Canada, as the Americans have won their last two tournaments and have been performing well recently. Canada will have a chance to play the U.S. in a couple of exhibition games in mid July, when Canada will be training at Brock University.
Hedges, who just returned to his base of Tuscaloosa, Alabama on Sunday night, had 16 points in his final game against Great Britain and played an average of 20-25 minutes per game.
He will come home to visit family and friends in mid August before he travels to London to compete in the London Games.