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Canada’s men drop 2nd straight to open Paralympic basketball qualifier | CBC Sports

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Canada quickly needs to find a way to play a full 40-minute game and be effective when top player Patrick Anderson isn’t on the court at the men’s wheelchair basketball Paralympic qualifying tournament.

The Canadians led 39-37 midway through the third quarter Saturday before France took control and scored 24 of the final 40 points for a 61-55 victory before a home crowd of 600 at Azur Arena in Antibes.

France improved its record to 2-0 to move into a tie with the Netherlands in Group B while Canada slipped to 0-2 and takes on Iran, also 0-2, on Sunday at 7:15 a.m. ET. Live streaming coverage will be available on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.

Canada made four of 11 attempts from three-point range but Colin Higgins and Anderson each missed in the final minute in a valiant effort to cut into France’s lead.

With the Canadians trailing by six, Anderson missed a three with 2:02 left on the clock and Vincent Dallaire couldn’t convert from under the basket 15 seconds later.

“We got better, we shot a little better, we got a little more used to the court and the rims — the rim is a little bit tight, it’s tight for everyone. It’s all about building,” co-captain Bo Hedges told Wheelchair Basketball Canada. “We got better compared to Friday [62-45 loss to the Netherlands] and we have one more big game on Sunday against Iran before we go into the winner-take-all game. It’s just a moving-forward process here.

“We need to cut down on our turnovers, work on getting ourselves good shots, and build confidence in the shots we take — those are the big things moving [forward].”

WATCH | Full replay of Canada vs. France:

Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Paralympic Qualifier: Canada vs. France

Watch as Canada takes on France in Antibes, France, as they fight for a spot at the 2024 Summer Paralympics.

Anderson and Higgins were a force, combining for 44 of Canada’s 55 points. Higgins’s 26 were a game high while Anderson added 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

Late in the third quarter, France applied intense pressure against the Canadians, who had to find a way to score with Anderson off for a rest. But it was Alexis Ramonet stepping up to give France a 47-40 advantage entering the final 10 minutes.

Flurry of action late in 1st half

The teams exchanged points in the first quarter but Canada struggled to contain Nicolas Jouanserre, who scored nine of his 15 points in the opening 12 minutes. Ramonet also scored 15 points and was 6-for-13 from the field.

France extended its lead to eight points and was ahead by six late in the first half when Anderson delivered the first three-pointer of the match to get Canada to within 24-23. He put Canada in front 25-23 with two minutes remaining but France fought back and led 28-27 at the break.

Canada opened the second half outscoring France 12-7 by the 3:47 mark and had its biggest lead of the contest at 38-35.

France collected 41 rebounds to 39 for Canada, which had a narrow advantage in steals (6-5) but turned over the ball 15 times to 11 for the home side.

The repechage tournament is a final opportunity for teams who did not qualify for the Paris Games through their zone qualifier to earn a spot at the Paralympic Games in Paris this summer. The top four of eight countries competing will advance.

Wheelchair basketball has been contested at the Paralympics since 1960. It wasn’t until the 1990s Canadian teams started to assert dominance in the sport.

Throughout the 2000s, Canada’s men were a force, winning gold at the 2000, 2004 and 2012 Paralympics.

It has competed in every Paralympics in men’s wheelchair basketball since 1968.

The Canadian women’s team will also participate in a last-chance qualifier after falling to the United States in the Parapan Am Games final last November. Canada’s men won bronze at the same event.

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