Day 7 preview - Toronto 2015 Parapan Wheelchair Rugby
By Nathan Bragg
South American rivals Colombia and Brazil will meet for bronze, while Canada get a rematch with the United States for gold after Wednesday’s thrilling double overtime clash.
Bronze Medal Preview:
Brazil vs Colombia
Brazil will come into this game with confidence after beating Colombia by twelve in preliminary play, but the Colombians have improved as the tournament has gone on and they have a player in 3.5 Jhon Orozco that will require multiple defenders to contain.
The Brazilians on the other hand will look to spread the floor with their balanced lineups and emphasis on a strong passing game. They’ve had multiple contributors throughout the tournament and their coach really looks to get his bench involved.
Both sides like to play an aggressive pressing style so the match promises to be full of hard its and physical play. The Columbians have improved defensively over the course of the tournament so it will be interesting to see how they cover Brazil’s threats.
Colombia benefits from the speed and inteligence of 1.0 Carlos Neme Monotoya who leads the team in minutes per game and has done well playing above his classification on both sides of the ball.
Brazil won the preliminary match by 12 and will be hoping to repeat that performance to claim their third consecutive bronze in international competition and gain momentum leading into next year’s Paralympics.
“We expect to play better than yesterday and win the bronze medal,” said Jose Higino after Brazil lost their semifinal to Canada.
Ranked 21st in the world, Colombia have yet to beat Brazil in international play and a victory would mark the first major international medal won by Colombia.
Just like the gold medal match, the bronze will be contested by two teams with alot of history and passion. It guarantees to be a very physical game.
Gold Medal Preview:
Canada vs. the United States
It’s been ten years since the Oscar-nominated film Murderball was released but the rivalry at the core of the film is still alive and well in wheelchair rugby.
The two sides have had plenty of close games in recent years, including overtime games at the 2014 IWRF World Championship in Denmark and in preliminary play at the Parapan Am Games on Wednesday night when the Americans emerged with 60-59 double overtime victory.
Both teams are known for their depth and have given all of their players court time leading up to this game, but that could change with a gold medal and qualification in next year’s Rio Paralympics up for grabs.
American captain Jason Regier expects a fantastic game for his team and the fans.
“What people are going to see tomorrow is what rugby deserves”
Key match-ups to watch will be the battle between prolific high-pointers Zak Madell and Chuck Aoki who led their respective teams in scoring during round robin play and how each team approaches defensive play. In the earlier game the United States frequently double Madell with either two 2.0s or Aoki and Chad Cohn who is a very strong 1.0. and that’s a likely trend to continue.
The Canadians will likely want to use their strong low-pointers to create mismatches, Trevor Hirschfield is known as the best 1.0 in the world and gives Canada plenty of options whether they go with a hi-lo or a balanced line.
For the United States, Josh Wheeler and Eric Newby have really stepped into starring roles during these Parapan Am Games and should feature prominently in the final.
Ernie Chun gives the United States a different look as a 2.0 that uses a defensive chair. It makes him an incredible difficult picker to get off of due to his strength and size, he played major minues in the preliminary match-up with Canada
Byron Green could be a real x-factor for Canada as he’s logged heavy minutes all tournament and as their only 0.5 is necessary for the Canadian hi-lo to get on court. Look for him to set plenty of screens for Madell and Whitehead as the game goes on.
After the semifinal win American captain Jason Regier said he had high expectations for the final game from the fans’ perspective.
If these two teams have shown anything in the lead-up to this game, it’s that this rivalry is too close to call and should be a fantastic game for everyone involved.
Watch both games live starting at 6:30 PM Eastern time at IWRF.com