High hopes for wheelchair basketball

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

The buoyed national wheelchair basketball squad will play eight Test matches against Turkey and Great Britain next month in their last preparations for the Beijing Paralympics in September.

The squad, coached by Viv Sierra, will play three Test matches against Turkey in South Africa between August 15 and 20.

They engage Great Britain in five Test matches in Singapore between August 24 and 30.

The Paralympics will take place from September 7 to 16.

Sierra yesterday described the Test matches as crucial and said they will test their readiness for the huge task in Beijing.

"We have to do well in these matches to continue to build our morale for the Paralympics," Sierra said.

They go into these encounters spirited after sealing victory in the three-Test series against Holland in Amsterdam at the weekend.

SA hammered the Dutch 72-58 in the final after the two countries were tied at 1-all before the match. Sierra's charges won the first Test 64-42 but lost the second 66-55.

"Our success over Holland just shows how our preparations have gone for the Paralympics. I was impressed with our general performance in Holland and we just need to maintain the standard in Beijing," he said.

The South Africans have been pitted in Pool A against world No1 Canada, Germany, Sweden, Iran and Japan.

The SA squad: Marcus Retief, Siphamandla Gumbi, Shaun Hartnick, Justin Govender, Nicholas Taylor, Thandile Zonke, Ralph Williams, Marius Papenfus, David Curle, Jeremy Nel, Grant Waites and Richard Nortje.