Today, the Australia men’s national wheelchair basketball team left home for a two week tour of the United States. The team is scheduled to spend their first week at the University of Alabama. After that, they will make the short trip to Birmingham where they will be based at Lakeshore and will play a series against the United States, Canada and Great Britain.
Members of the Australian touring squad include Jannik Blair, Sam White, Tige Simmons, Mike Damelio, Nick Taylor , Luke Pople, Shaun Norris, Adam Deans, Bill Latham, Michael Auprince, Shawn Russel, Tristan Knowles, Justin Eveson, Brad Ness, Leigh Gooding, Jess Adams, Adam Wolski, and Luke Brennan. They are joined by head coach Ben Ettridge.
Three players, Taylor, Pople and Auprince, are currently playing domestically for the Wollongong Roller Hawks. Knowles is a 4 point player, and was with the team for their 2014 IWBF World Championship gold medal run. He, Ness, Norris, Eveson and Taylor were all important point scorers for Australia in that competition and are all back with the team here. Norris’s performance was so impressive that he was named the competition’s MVP, and he finished third in August among vote getters for the IPC’s Athlete of the Month.
Auprince is with the team after having been a 2012 Summer Paralympian in swimming. He made the switched in 2013, after making the Australian under-23 side for the World Championships in Turkey, which saw his team finish in third behind Germany and Sweden. Blair has experience with the University of Alabama, as he played for the men’s team. He was joined at the university by Cobi Crispin, fellow Australian and member of the Australian women’s national team.