4 WheelKings named in U23 national team

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Sydney Uni WheelKings Head Coach Gerry Hewson might have to make do without four of his starting five players for the second round of the 2013 National Wheelchair Basketball League (NWBL), after they were selected in the U23’s men’s wheelchair basketball training squad that will for the U23’s World Championships in Turkey this September.

SUSF Elite Athlete Program (EAP) scholarship holder Joshua Meoli and his WheelKings team mates Keegan Oh-Chee, Michael Auprince and Clarence Groga could all miss their club teams cluster round (June 28-30) against Brisbane, Adelaide and Dandenong if they are selected in the final squad that will tour Thailand in June as preparation for the World Championships later in the year.

The quartet, part of a squad of 17 – selected from the Australian Development Camp held at the AIS in Canberra in January – have assembled in the nation’s capital for a training camp this week (March 6-10).  

At the conclusion of the camp, a team will be selected to compete in the Qualification Tournament for the Asia Oceania Zone in June in Thailand, to be ratified by the Board of Basketball Australia.

Basketball Australia Chief Executive Officer Kristina Keneally said next week’s camp was a great opportunity for Australia’s future Rollers to make their mark on men’s wheelchair basketball.

“The players attending next week’s training camp are the current cream of a solid High Performance Program that Basketball Australia has provided as a pipeline to the Australian Men’s senior team,” Ms Keneally said.

“To be selected into a World Championship training squad is something they should be immensely proud of and we wish them all the best as they begin their preparations for an important year ahead.”

Rollers Head coach Tom Kyle said that while all of the players selected have taken part in various camps and tournaments for the past two to three years, the aim of this camp was to start the countdown to selecting the 12 players Australia will take to the World Championships in September.

“At this stage, we haven’t decided if we will take a full squad of 12 to the qualifiers in Thailand in June, but the aim next week is to take a look at the combinations,” Coach Kyle said. 

“In wheelchair basketball, unlike able bodied basketball, we have points limitations, which means we have to look at what we can put on the floor at any one time. *

“The point of this camp is to finalise our preferred combinations and then to select those players who best match the combinations we come up, with who we believe will put us in a position to ultimately secure a medal at the World Championships.” 

Australia’s current world ranking is fourth in U23’s Men’s Wheelchair Basketball.

The 2013 IWBF Men’s Under 23’s World Championships will be held from 12-22 September in Adana, Turkey.