Japan Wins Tri Nations Wheelchair Rugby Invitational
Courtesy Doug Coil
On Saturday, May 13th the USA beat Canada 53-33 and advanced to the 2017 Tri Nations Invitational Championship match against Japan.
Both the USA and Japan met three time in round robin play with the USA winning the first game by three points, while losing the next two by one point. Another close match was expected in the Championship and it didn’t disappoint as Japan emerged with a 55-54 win to claim the title.
The Lakeshore Foundation in Birmingham, Alabama was the 2017 Tri Nations Invitational host from May 10-13, with the USA, Canada and Japan participating. The teams entered the invitational ranked by the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF) 2, 4 and 3, respectively. Games for the entire tournament were streamed on the Lakeshore Foundation Facebook page.
In years where the Paralympics or World’s are not being held, there are fewer competitions. This tournament provided a competition prior to teams going to Tokyo for the Japan Para Wheelchair Rugby Championship on May 25th-28th. The USA and Canada then will go to the Americas Zonals in Paraguay September 3-10, where they will attempt to qualify for the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation World’s.
On May 10th. the invitational began with Japan defeating Canada 59-37, the USA beating Canada 64-36 and in the last game of the day, the USA defeated Japan 54-51. For a recap of day one, click here.
On May 11th, the USA defeated Canada 63-45 and lost to Japan 48-47. Japan beat Canada. Both the USA and Japan are 3-1 in round robin play, while Canada is seeking its first win. For a recap of day two, click here.
On May 12th, Japan defeated the USA 55-54 and then Canada 55-36. The USA completed the evening game with a 58-36 win over Canada. This set up tomorrow’s finals with the USA playing Canada at 2pm CT and the winner playing Japan in the Final at 5pm CT. For a recap of day three and an interview with James Gumbert, click here.
May 13 Finals
USA v Canada
James Gumbert opted to start the game with a reserve line providing athletes with increased playing time which will help with their development. It also provides some rest for others should they win against Canada and face Japan in the Finals. The first line did play some limited minutes as the USA took a 16-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter the USA extended their lead to 23-16 midway through the period and an aggressive defense resulted in several consecutive turnovers by Canada. With two minutes remaining before halftime, the score was 28-17. That lead increased to 31-17 at the break.
During the third quarter the USA increased their lead to 42-24 and created several turnovers. Canada created a couple of turnovers midway through the last period and the game ended 53-33 to the USA.
With the with against Canada, the USA moves to the Finals in a winner take all game against Japan. Both teams want to win the Tri Nations Invitational and the USA wants to maintain its world second place ranking.
USA v Japan
The USA scored first after a Japan turnover. The USA used some long passes to score a number of points, while Japan generally relied on making several passes to score. Both teams blocked attackers, requiring some short range passes or turns to find gaps. At the end of the first period Japan lead 14-13 with both teams having a turnover.
In the second quarter, the defenses tightened and the USA was able to take advantage of another Japan turnover. At halftime in this tight match, the USA led 27-26.
With the score tied 33 all, the USA could not handle a down the court pass and this turnover could have been a factor as the team scores first has the other constantly chasing. At the end of the third quarter the score was 40 all.
The final quarter had Japan striking first and with the game 46-45 in favor of Japan, the USA was on the verge of scoring when a Japan defender knocked a defender over and in the process, the loose ball went over the line. This was the only turnover during the last period and allowed Japan to take a two point lead. The USA kept chasing the rest of the match and came up short 55-54.
In the Tri Nations Invitational, Japan came in first place, the USA second and Canada third.
Individual awards went to Daisuke Ikezaki for Tournament MVP. The athletes that were best in their classification included Jeff Butler (USA, 0.5), Tomaki Imai (Japan, 1.0), Seiya Norimatsu (Japan, 1.5), Joe Delagrave (USA, 2.0), Josh Wheeler (USA, 2.5), Yukinobu Ike (Japan, 3.0), Branden Troutman (Canada, 3.5)
These teams will see each other again in Tokyo, Japan for the Japan Para Wheelchair Rugby Championship, on May 25-28.
Schedule & Results
- May 10: Japan 59-37 Canada
- May 10: USA 64-36 Canada
- May 10: USA 54-51 Japan
- May 11: Canada 45-63 USA
- May 11: Japan 48-47 USA
- May 11: Japan 58-41 Canada
- May 12: Japan 55-54 USA
- May 12: Japan 55-36 Canada
- May 12: USA 58-36 Canada
- May 13: USA 53-33 Canada
- May 13: Japan 55-54 USA (Championship)
Tri Nations Rosters
USA Wheelchair Rugby: Athlete Bios
- Chuck Aoki, Minneapolis, MN #5 (3.0)
- Clayton Brackett, Birmingham, AL #21 (2.5)
- Jeff Butler, Austin, TX #6 (0.5)
- Ernie Chun, Phoenix, AZ #8 (2.0)
- Joe Delagrave, Chandler, AZ #14 (2.0)
- Lee Fredette, East Moriches, NY #11 (1.0)
- Joe Jackson, Chandler, AZ #3 (1.0)
- Talbot Kennedy, Atlanta, GA #13 (1.5)
- Chuck Melton, Richview, IL #2 (2.0)
- Alejandro Pabon, Arlington, TX #23 (2.5)
- Tim Vixay, Portland, OR #42 (0.5)
- Josh Wheeler, San Tan Valley, AZ #10 (2.5)
Canada Wheelchair Rugby – Athlete Bios
- Shayne Smith #25 (2.5)
- Brenden Troutman #24 (3.5)
- Michael Whitehead #8 (3.0)
- Cody Caldwell #9 (2.0)
- Kristen Cameron #3 (0.5)
- Patrice Dagenais #12 (1.0)
- Matt Delby #31 (3.0)
- Anthony Letourneau #21 (2.0)
- Yanick Racicot #55 (1.5)
- Eric Furtado Rodrigues #41 (0.5)
Japan Wheelchair Rugby – Athlete Bios
- Masayuki Haga #4 (2.0)
- Kazuhiko Kanno #6 (2.0)
- Daisuke Ikezaki #7 (3.0)
- Kae Kurahashi #3 (0.5)
- Hidefumi Wakayama #1 (1.0)
- Shinichi Shimakawa #13 (3.0)
- Tomaki Imai #9 (1.0)
- Kotaro Kishi #15 (0.5)
- Yukinobu Ike #21 (3.0)
- Seiya Norimatsu #22 (1.5)
- Shin Nakazato #11 (2.5)