The Australian men’s wheelchair basketball team has warmed up for its
Paralympic title defence at the London 2012 Games, with a 54-40 win
over Columbia at the Lee Valley basketball stadium.
The Rollers were represented by four WAIS scholarship holders with Brad Ness, Justin Eveson, Shaun Norris and Michael Hartnett all on court for the Paralympic and World Champions.
In their last practise match before the Games begin, the Rollers were
at times scrappy, but did enough to win each quarter and stretch away
for a 14 point win.
Columbia was the only team in the London Paralympic draw that the
Rollers had never faced off against, and the opportunity to familiarise
themselves ahead of competition only added to their impressive
Rollers head coach Ben Ettridge handed starts to Jannik Blair,
Michael Hartnett, Brett Stibners, Bill Latham and Tristan Knowles but
they came against a spirited Columbian outfit who made a real fight of
the opening quarter.
The Australians’ superior squad depth began to tell in the second
half though, as the likes of Justin Eveson, Brad Ness, Nicholas Taylor
and Shaun Norris began to turn the score board over, and the defence
kept their South American counterparts to just 16 second half points.
2008 Beijing gold medallist Michael Hartnett said the match had taken
on a roller coaster course, with both sides ironing out kinks in the
final lead-up for London.
"It was a scrappy match,” Hartnett said. " These can be danger games,
we didn’t know much about them, and they’re relaxed and happy to be
here, so they played with no pressure.”
"It’s good to get another hit-out and now we’ll go back and see what we can learn from that,” he said.
The Australians will play their opening match of the London 2012 Paralympic Games on Thursday, against South Africa.