U.S. Men took on China this morning in their first game of preliminary play at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. The last time these two teams met was at the 2010 World Championships when China beat USA in round robin play, 7-5. Six years later, the two teams have qualified to compete on the Paralympic stage and were both drawn into the ‘group of death’.
Deemed the ‘group of death’ by players and coaches, Group B is made up of six of the top teams in the world, who are all medal contenders – USA, China, Lithuania, Japan, Finland and Turkey. U.S. Men played the first of four preliminary games they will play in this group before the top four teams from each group move on to quarter finals.
Four-time Paralympian Tyler Merren, two-time Paralympian Joe Hamilton and first-time Paralympian John Kusku took the court for Team USA against China. The three showed impressive endurance playing the entire game without substitutions.
Making his Paralympic debut, Kusku scored 2 goals for Team USA. “I feel good about my performance,” said Kusku. “It was incredible to be out there.”
Hamilton scored twice in the first half and once in the second half, helping earn Team USA a win against China’s 2 points (scored on penalties). “To come out here and play flawless three-on-three defense, which is a priority for our defense in this tournament, really feels great,” said Hamilton. “We had the perfect amount of energy – didn’t let ourselves get too up or too down and that’s exactly what you need to do in this sport.”
Next up, the U.S. Men will play world champions, Lithuania. Kusku says he’s feeling “nothing but excitement” about tomorrow’s game while Hamilton is focused on getting down to business. “They’re the best in the world, so we just gotta go get ‘em,” said Hamilton.
After not qualifying to compete at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the U.S. Men’s Goalball Team is anxious to make their mark in Rio. The team will play three more preliminary games (vs. Lithuania, Finland and Turkey) before quarterfinals begin on Wednesday, September 14. Competition continues tomorrow at 1:15pm BRT when U.S. Men’s Goalball takes on Lithuania. Follow the team on Twitter (@USMGoalball) for live tweets from the game or minute-by-minute plays and results at www.rio2016.com. You can also view Day Two video highlights here.
The U.S. Women were scheduled to play Algeria in the afternoon but did not play after the Algerian Women’s Team failed to show for the game. This resulted in a win for U.S. Women’s Goalball. Their next game is Sunday against Japan at 10:15am local time.