United State of Zen: U.S. Defeats Canada in Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Gold Match, 78-43

SAN LUIS — Last night, the citizens of the United States of America didn’t know what to think. They haven’t had a defeat from Canada in quite some time, and Team USA Women’s Wheelchair Basketball fell victim to the Canadian team to grab a silver medal. This couldn’t happen two nights in a row, where the United States men’s team fought for gold vs. Canada’s Men’s  Wheelchair Basketball team, could it?

The stands were packed to see possibly another upset from a very confident Canada team and a very talented Team USA, who were ranked #1 in the world. The United States and Canada had already been accepted to Tokyo 2020, along with bronze medalist Columbia, as the three top seeds have auto bids, but there was something more than that on the line today… gold.

Both teams lined up for their respective National Anthems first it was “Oh, Canada”, then it was “The Star Spangled Banner”. Both teams would hope to hear their anthems  one more time from the medal stand, but there was only room for one to play tonight for a second time. 

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Team USA’s Trevon Jenifer sits in the hoop, celebrating his team’s Gold Medal Win vs. Canada (PHOTO CREDIT: Michael A. Clubine)

Steve Serio started the scoring with a 2-pointer from just to the left of the top of the key and the scoring was underway. A quick miss by Canada and America looked like they were gonna be in the driver’s seat after Serio dropped a bomb from behind the arc. 5-0 USA to start the game. After Michael Paye dropped in two and 2 free throws from Canada, The Canucks decided to take a time-out with 7:41 left in the first.

Coming out of the break, Paye picked up the scoring and made them pay with a two pointer extending the United States’ lead to 9-2. Following a Canada basketball, Paye does it again sinking another long two-pointer to make the lead 11-4. 

Canada’s Patrick Anderson with 5:50 left in the first quarter got into some early foul trouble for his team picking up his second by tackling Brian Bell inadvertently, and Bell sank one of two free throws to make the game 12-4. 

Team USA could not blow a lead in this one too, they knew it, so they kept going, though the score was an easily manageable seven points for more of the first quarter. . At the end of the first quarter was 18-11..

The United States knew something had to happen and it had to happen now. 

“We had to do simple better, we had to play USA basketball and that’s who we are,” Said Matthew Scott who finished with 13 points ,four rebounds and four assists. 

Captain Serio and Paye put the weight of the nation on his back came outscoring. They went on a 6-0 run to start the second quarter. Canada finally scored with 7:42  left in the half when David Eng added one to his lay-up on a foul and then hit another 2-pointer to bring Canadians within six. The United States would add a bucket and the lead was now eight.

Turnovers in general was a huge problem for Team Canada, they turned the ball over  seven times in the first two quarters of play. The Turnovers were in the form of sloppy passes and traveling violations. Then, a time-out was called by Canada, they needed to stop the bleeding now or it was over.

Alas, Canada could not buy buckets. They had open shots, but the USA defense was just out of this world. They were forcing Team Canada to take shots that was just not warranted. On one such possession with just over a minute left, Canada took four shots, which went nowhere near in the basket. 

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Team USA Captain Steve Serio dribbles the ball in the first half vs. Team Canada. On August 31, 2019 (PHOTO CREDIT: Michael A. Clubine)

“No matter how many shots you get up,  the best shooters in the world are gonna miss but you can always play amazing defense and that is one theme that we are gonna carry on to Tokyo.” Said Captain Steve Serio of Team USA immediately following the game.’

The United States Wheelchair Basketball Team was coasting behind a team effort, with Serio leading all USA scorers with nine points. On the other side, Patrick Anderson was leading Canada at the half with nine points as well. 

The second half started with Team Canada doing the same thing in the first quarter of offense, being sloppy with the ball and missing their first two shots, the United States would make them pay, specifically #16 Trevon Jenifer, who sank his first bucket of the match, but then was immediately floored by a Canadian defender, having the leave his wheelchair to get back up. Jenifer would then commit a foul on Tyler Miller while the shot clock was at one on Tyler Miller. Miller would sink both.The Canadians and The Statesmen would go back and forth, staying around a 13-point lead for the United States. 

Matthew Scott extended that lead by three by shooting from the Pacific Ocean to get the three point bucket to drop 48-30.with just under five minutes remaining. The United States from that point would go on a 13-2 run to end the third quarter, capped off with another one from Matthew Scott which he practically shot from his own house.in Detroit. At the end of the third it was USA 61, Canada 32. The Northern lights were powerless.

Scott said about his ability to hit threes from great distances during the game, 

“You know what man,  we have a great staff who gets us ready for these games. I feel ready, I feel strong at all times, and I have the confidence of my teammates when I shoot the ball.”

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Matthew Scott bites down on his gold medal after defeating Canada for first place on Saturday, August 31, 2019. (PHOTO CREDIT: Michael A. Clubine)

The United States game plan in the fourth quarter with the score being so lopsided was to run out the clock on Canada. They slowed down the pace, except for a long three pointer from Jacob Williams, which might have been the dagger. The United States would win this game 78-43 and take home gold medals to the land of the free and the home of the brave.

The question loomed for Steve Serio immediately following the win, is this the last game on Team USA for the Captain in Parapan American Games play?

“We’ll see, I’m trying not to think about. It, I’m trying to celebrate this moment with my guys and we’re going to enjoy tonight.”

However, when asked what his favorite colors are Serio responded:

“You  kidding me? It’s red, white and blue!”

 

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