The Australian Rollers men’s national wheelchair basketball team have named a 21-player squad in contention for selection to represent the team at the 2014 IWF Men’s Wheelchair Basketball World Championships in Incheon, South Korea.
The defending World Champions, the Rollers squad is littered with star power, including a core of the team that claimed the world title in Birmingham, England four years ago.
Following the official draw for July’s tournament last week, the Rollers will face a tough task to get out of the group, with games against European trio Germany, Sweden and Italy to challenge their hopes of winning back-to-back World Championships.
The squad includes eight players from the 2012 Paralympic Games silver medal winning team, including Tristan Knowles, Brad Ness and Justin Eveson, compiling 10 Paralympic appearances for the Rollers.
Adding to the experienced core is an exciting group of young players emerging following the 2013 IWBF Under 23 Men’s Wheelchair Basketball World Championships led by 2012 Paralympian Jannik Blair, Luke Pople and Tom O’Neill-Thorne.
Rollers Head Coach Ben Ettridge said the strength in depth of the squad is testament to the quality of wheelchair basketball in Australia.
“The depth of this extended squad is truly a testament to the talent that currently lies in the Rollers program,” Ettridge said.
“We have an experienced core in the form of Brad Ness, Mike Hartnett, Justin Eveson, Shaun Norris, Tristan Knowles, Bill Latham, Jannik Blair and Nick Taylor, who formed the team that claimed silver in London
“These players provide great leadership and really set the standards for the group, giving the younger players a clear expectation of what is required to be part of the Rollers program.”
The emergence of the youth coming through to the senior team has also excited Ettridge, believing this will ensure the contest for spots in the final 12 remains strong.
“This squad also includes some exciting young players who have come through our development pathway, such as Tom O’Neill-Thorne, Luke Pople, Michael Auprince and Jordan Bartley,” Ettridge said.
“All four of these players were keys to the success of the Australian Spinners at the Under 23 World Championships last year.
“The goal of the Rollers program is always to have pressure from beneath. No one owns their spot in the team and must earn it.”
The Rollers begin their preparation for the World Championships next month (10-22 April) with a tour of Europe for training camp and tournament games.
The 2014 IWF Men’s Wheelchair Basketball World Championships takes place in Incheon, South Korea from 3-15 July.
Australian Rollers extended squad for the 2014 IWBF Men’s Wheelchair Basketball World Championships
Joshua Allison – Victoria
Michael Auprince – Wollongong Rollerhawks
Jordan Bartley – RSL Queensland Spinning Bullets
Jannik Blair – Victoria/University of Alabama
Marcus Chiavelli – Wollongong Rollerhawks
Michael D’Amelio – Victoria
Adam Deans – Wollongong Rollerhawks
Justin Eveson – Be Active Perth Wheelcats
Michael Hartnett – Be Active Perth Wheelcats
Tristan Knowles – Victoria
Bill Latham – RSL Queensland Spinning Bullets
Andrew Liddawi – Be Active Perth Wheelcats
Brad Ness – Red Dust Heelers Adelaide
Shaun Norris – Be Active Perth Wheelcats
Tom O’Neill-Thorne – RSL Queensland Spinning Bullets
Luke Pople – Wollongong Rollerhawks
Nick Radovich – RSL Queensland Spinning Bullets
Kim Robins – Be Active Perth Wheelcats
Shawn Russell – Victoria
Nick Taylor – Wollongong Rollerhawks
Sam White – Red Dust Heelers Adelaide/University of Whitewater Illinois
By Basketball Australia