Canada qualifies for Paralympics with victory over Italy at Men’s IWBF Repechage Tournament

Canadian Paralympic Committee

April 15, 2024

Anderson’s double-double led the SMNT to a 72-60 win over Italy

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(OTTAWA, ONT.)—Patrick Anderson scored a game-high 23 points and 12 rebounds, and Canada punched its ticket to the 2024 Paralympic Games with a 72-60 victory over Italy on Monday at the Men’s IWBF Repechage Tournament in Antibes, France. 
“It feels amazing. Personally, I was getting emotional looking up in the crowd and seeing my wife Anna and the kids,” Anderson said. “For the team, it was the perfect win in terms of getting contributions from everybody and building on the last three days, as crazy as that sounds.”
Colin Higgins (Rothesay, N.B.) added 14 points and 16 rebounds, while Vincent Dallaire (Quebec City, Que.) and Nik Goncin (Regina, Sask.) added 11 points each in the win. 
The Senior Men’s National team led wire-to-wire on Monday, and despite a fourth quarter push from Italy, outscored the Italians 18-17 in the final period to secure the victory. Canada finished shooting 60 per cent from the field and limited Italy to 22 of 63 shooting. 
“Even though we lost all three of our previous games, we did improve from game to game,” said Anderson. “We caught Italy maybe on an off day, and we got awesome contributions from everybody. It was a really special team win.”
Team Canada led 54-43 through three quarters. Canada opened the second half with a 7-2 surge, stretching the lead to 19. Italy battled back to cut the lead to 11, outscoring Canada 23-20 in the period. 
On Sunday, Italy erased a 19-point Germany halftime lead to win 72-63. Anderson said the team was well-prepared for a second half push from Italy on Monday.
“There was just no relax on a day like today. It’s impossible to let your guard down,” Anderson said. “There wasn’t much that needed to be said other than to keep making them work. There was no chance we were taking our foot off the gas—we were well-prepared by all our staff. We’ve got some veterans on the team—there’s no letup in a game like this. We just kept our eye on stuff we focused on in the first half.”
Team Canada led 34-20 through two quarters of play. 
The SMNT used an 8-0 run, stretching its lead to 10 two minutes into the second, and outscored Italy 19-9 in the period. Anderson led the way with 11 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. Dallaire added eight points and three rebounds. Higgins had six points and eight rebounds at the break. Canada shot 59 per cent from the field while holding Italy to 8 of 32 shooting.
Canada jumped out to an early 6-0 lead and led 15-11 after one quarter. Anderson had seven points and six rebounds, and Dallaire added four points. 
“It was a little bit of saving our best for when it counted most,” Anderson said. “They missed a few shots early, but we hit some stuff early, and it just gave us confidence right off the jump. I think it gave us a little bit of a boost and just that little bit more wind in our sails. 
“I just felt like it was a snowball going downhill as the game went on—we felt more connected, and the guys were talking more and more on and off the court. It was just one of those days. Early on, we got some buckets from key guys, and it was like, ‘Oh wow, this really feels like our day,’ and it was.”
The SMNT has appeared in every Paralympic Games since 1968 and won gold in 2000, 2004 and 2012.

The repechage tournament was the final opportunity for teams who did not qualify for the Paris Games through their zone qualifier to earn a spot at the Paralympic Games.

The tournament included two groups of four teams, with Monday’s four games unveiling the four teams that earn a berth in the 2024 Paralympic Games. Tournament results can be found here.

Full stats from Canada’s game against Italy can be found here
Lead photo courtesy Grégory Picout/Fédération Française Handisport

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