Whitehorse’s Aidan Love and the rest of Team Canada are on their way to the quarterfinals at the Men’s U23 World Wheelchair Basketball Championships in Adana, Turkey.
Canada secured a spot in the round-of-eight with a narrow 61-58 win over Mexico on Tuesday. Who Canada will face in the quarterfinal was not determined at press time.
“We defeated Mexico twice at the qualification tournament in March and that gave us confidence in the game today,” said Team Canada head coach Steve Bialowas in a news release. “They played us very tough, as we knew they would. We survived a difficult first quarter and, even giving up the lead late in the game like we did, our resolve never wavered.”
Team Canada now has a 2-2 record at the worlds, having opened with a 62-31 win over South Africa on Saturday.
Canada then lost 57-50 to Great Britain Sunday and 68-45 to Germany on Monday.
“We have had a few tough games against Germany, Great Britain, and Mexico,” said Love in an email to the News. “We have been improving every game thus far, but are going to have tough games ahead that we must win if we want to advance. The competition is tough, so we will have to bring our A game.”
The seven-point loss to Great Britain indicates improvement. Canada lost three straight exhibition games to Britain prior to the start of the worlds by scores of 73-28 (while missing two starters), 55-42 and 58-44.
“We have been kept busy with a practice and a game generally every day plus several team video review sessions,” said Love.
Love, 20, is the only northerner currently on Canada’s four national teams, including the two women’s teams. He is the first player from the territories on the U23 men’s national team since Inuvik, N.W.T.‘s Brent Lakatos in 2001.
Canada secured a berth to the quadrennial world championships with a first-place finish at the 2013 Americas Zone Qualification Tournament in Mexico City in March.
Team Canada finished eighth at the 2009 U23 worlds, was sixth in 2005, and won gold in 2001 and 1997.
Love is relatively new to the sport. He began playing a year ago while attending school at the University of Victoria in B.C., where he is studying elementary education.
In B.C. he began playing with the Victoria Chargers club team, advancing up from Division 2 to Division 1 through the season. Love was named Rookie of the Year by the team in March.
“Things are going really well in Turkey,” added Love. “The volunteers have been very good and have made everything go smoothly. The hotel is gorgeous, it is hard to believe that we get to stay here for the duration of our trip.”
Love became a paraplegic in a skiing accident at Whistler, B.C., in February 2012.
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