United States’ men’s wheelchair basketball team head coach Matt Buchi has named an 11-man squad for the 2015 Kitakyushu Champions Cup in Japan, which is set to take place between November 13 and 15.
With only players under the age of 30 eligible to compete, the tournament is designed to nurture young players who may be able to participate at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and Buchi has taken the opportunity to give several rising American stars their international debuts.
Collin Evans, who had taken part in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) Parapan American Games selection camp, is expected to be one of the star performers for the American team in Japan, as well as NWBA All-Academic Team member Thomas Duffy.
The selection is completed by Cherronte Watts, Chris Bacon, Derek Hoot, Devin Lockett, James Mocer Jr, John Boie, Joshua Poulson, Rafael Rodriguez and Ryan Juguan.
Buchi, who was named as the head coach for the tournament in June having held the same post at University of Illinois, believes the Kitakyushu Champions Cup will provide a boost to the athletes’ fledging careers as elite level wheelchair basketball players.
"This is a critical step in the development of this younger generation of athletes," he said.
"Opportunities like these are rare and this could be a difference maker in one of these athletes becoming a Paralympian.
"The Kitakyushu Tournament will provide invaluable experience to help these athletes take their game to the next level and help groom them for possible future Paralympic success."
In addition to hosts Japan, the American team will face the challenge of Great Britain and South Korea during the four-team event which will see each side compete in a round-robin format before the gold and bronze medal matches on Sunday (November 15).
Following the Opening Ceremony on Thursday (November 12) the American squad will take part in an exhibition match against local team Kanto.
The tournament in Kitakyushu will commemorate the 2002 Kitakyushu Gold Cup which was won by the US and is now referred to as the Wheelchair Basketball World Championship, while organisers hope it will also showcase the location as a potential training camp base for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
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June 2015: Buchi named United States’ men’s wheelchair basketball head coach for 2015 Kitakyushu Champions’ Cup
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