Ahead of the 2018 World Championships, which is set to take place in Hamburg, Germany starting on Thursday 16th August. We spoke to GB Paralympian Dan Johnson about his ones to watch at the tournament.
Dan, who retired from international competition in Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games following a lengthy 12-year career and now acts as a commentator and analyst on British Television gives us his lowdown on the players to watch in the men’s competition at the Worlds.
It’s not quite a dream team being 0.5pt over, but these are Dan’s ones to watch:
Patrick Anderson (CAN – 4.5)
For all lovers of wheelchair basketball, the return of Anderson to the international fold is an exciting prospect. The greatest player of his generation, it will be fascinating to watch Anderson take on the World’s best without the legendary teammates that accompanied him to secure three Paralympic titles for Canada from 2000 onwards. His flawless technique and towering presence mean he is sure to make an impact at both ends of the floor.
Matt Scott (USA – 3.5)
An ever-present in the USA team since 2004, Matt is perpetual motion on the basketball court. With incredible speed, fast hands and a huge wingspan Scott makes his impact on defence as much as offence. Often coming off the bench he is the leader of the US secondary unit. The suffocating all-court pressure they apply harries opponents into turnovers creating instant offense and was a key factor in the USA’s success in Rio. A streaky shooter, Scott’s high tempo game is sure to be a crowd pleaser in Hamburg.
Tom O’Neill-Thorne (AUS – 3.0)
The rising star of Australian basketball O’Neill-Thorne made the All-Star Five at both the U23 World Championships closely followed by the Asia Oceania Championships in 2017. Equally adept as a scorer with three-point range or an assist man, Australia will hope he can replicate his 30 points per game club form for Queensland onto the big stage. His partnership with captain Shaun Norris, MVP at the last World Championship is sure to be key to Australia’s success.
Gregg Warburton (GBR – 2.0)
Making his debut at the Rio 2016 Paralympics Games as a 19-year-old, Gregg has quickly become a key member of a young evolving team. His ability to knock down shots all around the key will be crucial to GB’s chances in the tournament. A fierce competitor and aggressive defender Gregg’s mobility and chair skills dovetail perfectly with GB’s “run and gun” style. Captain of GB U23 World Championship winning team in 2017 Gregg is hungry for further honours
Ismail Ar (TUR – 1.5)
Part of Turkey’s European Championship winning team last year, Ismail Ar is widely recognised as one of the best low point players in the world. Fearless driving to the basket and finishing inside under pressure he punishes teams that focus too closely on Turkey’s big men usually hitting an incredibly high percentage. A feisty character, he harries opposition ball handlers in defence working tirelessly for the team. Voted in the 2014 World Championship All Star Five, Ar will hope Turkey can improve on their bronze medal from Incheon, South Korea.