Adam Lancia competes in his fourth Paralympic Games as a member of the Canadian wheelchair basketball team. Photo courtesy of the Canadian Paralympic Committee.

Wheelchair basketball defending gold medalists sit 0-3 at Rio Paralympics

Team Canada’s veterans believe Paralympics are a great experience for rookies- no matter the scores of their games

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil- The men’s Canadian wheelchair basketball team was handed their third consecutive loss in Rio, but is not focusing on the scores of the games.

Team veterans Adam Lancia and co-captain David Eng are not letting their 2016 Paralympic record discourage the rookie players.

The Canadians entered the Games with the attitude of taking them as  learning experiences. The team is 0-3 in the competition, losing to Australia on Saturday 73-58. However, Eng, 39, and Lancia, 36, are quickly moving beyond the final scores.

The team is young – at an average age of 29, it one of the youngest at the Games – but the skill and potential is where the two veterans are focusing.

“We have really great talent, we have great guys on the team,” Eng said. “We have not shown what we are really capable of. The scores that we’ve had in the last two games, even today, that doesn’t show what we’re capable of.

“Most of my team, they’re half my age. Liam (Hickey, forward) is almost our sixth man right now coming off the bench, he’s 18 years old. Being able to perform on the man, it’s amazing. I love the kid and it just brings energy also for vets.”

Lancia and Eng have participated in three previous Paralympic Games. They are excited for the rookies, but find it difficult to prepare them for performing on the largest stage in their sport.

“This is invaluable, I could talk about it until I’m blue in the face, and I have played 24 games at the Paralympics,” Lancia said. “I could literally talk until I die and if they never come to experience it, they’re never going to fully understand it.

“We can sort of prepare them a little but, but once they get here, all bets are off. You don’t know what you are going to feel emotionally, physically or internally.”

The expectations for the Canadians were never to medal in these Games, but it is still an opportunity to represent their country at the biggest competition in the world.

“I really think there’s nothing more human than the Paralympics. You have diversity, togetherness, disability, it’s incredible,” Eng said. “There’s one every four years and we can show the world that everybody is equal and is awesome.”

Team Canada will face Japan in its next preliminary match Sunday.

Twitter: @laurcascagnette