RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Despite gaining the support of the Brazilian fans, Canada’s women’s wheelchair basketball team had their medal dreams shattered in Rio on Tuesday.
The disappointing loss came at the hands of the Netherlands in a 78-60 quarterfinal defeat. However, the team’s veterans will still have several positives to take away from the experience.
“It’s been fantastic. We heard so many negative things going into these game, but I have nothing but positive memories to take with me when I leave,” said 39 year-old team captain Janet McLachlan. “From this team, from the fans, from the facilities, everything has been tremendous.
“They have been fantastic. It’s been so loud,” said team veteran Darda Sales, 34.
Canada saw little offence outside of its captains, as Cindy Ouellet, of Rivière-du-Loup, Que., put up 20 points, while McLachlan, of North Vancouver B.C., had a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
They also struggled on defence, allowing the Dutch to take 18 more shots, which ended up being the difference.
The Dutch were led by Mariska Beijer, who put on one of the best performances of the tournament, scoring 31 points to go along with 14 rebounds for the double-double.
“They’re a fantastic team, there’s nothing to take away from them,” said Sales, a London, Ont. native. “It’s been back and forth battles throughout my career with them, and I think that’ll continue into the future.”
Canada led early in the game and only trailed Netherlands by one heading into the second quarter. From there on out, it was smooth sailing for the Dutch, who opened up a 13-point lead by halftime and never looked back.
Canada cut the deficit to seven in the second half, but that’s as close as they were able to get, losing by a final scored of 78-60.
While this is a disappointing way for the team to end the tournament, both McLachlan and Sales see it as a learning experience for their young team, who still have a classification game to play on Friday.
“We’re working on things all the time. You’re always working on improve little, things and getting a bit better. We will have to do that,” McLachlan said. “But right now, we’ve still got more games to play. We have to collect ourselves, let this sink in and regroup.”
“It’s the adversity that makes you a better person and a better teammate. It is the glue that’s going to stick us all together,” Sales said.
“I think that we’re going to go and have a few tears right now, but we’re going to regroup and come back better, stronger, and more excited than ever.”