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Canada beats Italy to earn Paralympic men's wheelchair basketball berth

Canadian Paralympic Wheelchair Basketball Team Canadian Paralympic Wheelchair Basketball Team - Wheelchair Basketball Canada

ANTIBES, France — Patrick Anderson scored a game-high 23 points as Canada's men's wheelchair basketball team earned a spot for the Paris Paralympics with a 72-60 win over Italy at a repechage qualifying tournament Monday.

Anderson added 12 rebounds for Canada.

Colin Higgins had 14 points and 16 rebounds, while Vincent Dallaire and Nik Goncin added 11 points each in the wire-to-wire win.

The repechage tournament was the final opportunity for teams who did not qualify for the Paris Games through their zone qualifier.

Canada's men's senior basketball team has appeared in every Paralympic Games since 1968 and won gold in 2000, 2004 and 2012.

That run looked to be in danger when Canada lost all three of its group-stage games in the repechage tournament before downing previously unbeaten Italy in a must-win game.

“For the team, it was the perfect win in terms of getting contributions from everybody and building on the last three days, as crazy as that sounds," said the 44-year-old Anderson, who has long been one of wheelchair basketball's biggest stars.

"Even though we lost all three of our previous games, we did improve from game to game," he added. "We caught Italy maybe on an off day, and we got awesome contributions from everybody. It was a really special team win."

France, Germany and the Netherlands were the other teams to earn Paralympic berths at the tournament.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 15, 2024.