Rio 2016 prepares for epic clashes of wheelchair basketball champions

At Rio 2016, there will be a total of 73 games over 10 days of wheelchair basketball action, with 12 teams taking part in the men's competition and 10 in the women's event.

Australia's star player Shaun Norris is out to avenge the team's defeat to Canada in the London 2012 gold medal match (Photo: Getty Images/Shaun Botterill)

At Rio 2016, there will be a total of 73 games over 10 days of wheelchair basketball action, with 12 teams taking part in the men's competition and 10 in the women's event.

Spectator's guide to wheelchair basketball

Among a strong line-up of nations in the men’s draw are reigning world champions and defending Paralympic silver medallists Australia and current title holders Canada. The pair met in the finals in London 2012, Beijing 2008 and Athens 2004 and will resume their fierce rivalry in Rio.

The two countries have been drawn in the same pool in Rio and will meet on Saturday (10 September). Without retired all-time great Patrick Anderson in their ranks, reigning champions Canada will be subjected to a serious challenge by top-ranked Australia.

The Australians will be led by 31-year-old Shaun Norris, who will be competing in his fourth Paralympic Games and looking to add another gold to his current haul of one gold and two silvers.

Wheelchair basketball is perhaps the highest profile Paralympic sport in both countries. Both Australia and Canada have chosen veteran basketball athletes to carry their flags at the opening ceremony of the Games on Wednesday (7 September).

Groups drawn for wheelchair basketball at Rio 2016 Paralympic Games

Wheelchair basketball champions Canada seek inspiration in electric atmosphere of Rio 2016

With Canada underperforming in recent championships, the USA are well positioned to make their way to the gold medal match on 17 September. The USA’s Steve Serio is a dominant force on both ends of the court. The New York native has a reputation as a match winner and is one of the world’s purest shooters from distance.

European showdown

In the women’s competition, London 2012 bronze medallists Netherlands and defending Paralympic and European champions Germany will continue a battle that stretches back to the late 1980s. They have met at every European Championship final since 1989 – that is 13 times they have faced off in a final.

The Dutch women have yet to claim Paralympic gold. But bronze at London 2012 and their recent form in world and regional championships suggest they have a great chance to win that elusive gold medal on 16 September.

Keep an eye on the match-up between Germany’s Marina Mohnen, one of the team's most experienced players, and Dutch scoring machine Mariska Beijer, the top scorer at the 2015 European Championship.

Meanwhile, reigning world champions Canada are seeking their first Paralympic gold since Sydney 2000. Leading their campaign is Janet McLachlan, who averaged 21.5 points per game during the 2014 world championship.

For their part, the US women, champions at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, look well placed to return to the podium in Rio after their gold medal triumph at the 2015 Parapan-American Games in Toronto – where they beat Canada 80-72 in the final.

Record number of countries to broadcast Rio 2016 Paralympic Games

The emerging nations are also ready to make an impact at Rio 2016. China’s women qualified by beating London 2012 silver medallists Australia, who failed to qualify for Rio as a result, while host nation Brazil will ride the home crowd support in both competitions.

How it works

Men and women’s wheelchair basketball teams are composed of players in different sport classes. There are eight classes – 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5 – with 1.0 being the most significant activity limitation. Each team can have a combination of five players on the basketball court, but the total of the classification points cannot exceed 14.

Group stage matches will be split between Carioca Arena 1 and the Rio Olympic Arena. The latter, Rio 2016’s largest indoor venue, will go on to host all the knock-out matches and the finals.

The competition will run from 8-17 September, with 10 games each day for the first five days. The knockout stages begin on 13 September. The women's gold medal match will be held on 16 September with the men's gold medal decided on 17 September.