Five outstanding Division II and III Wheelchair basketball teams competed against one another this past weekend at Ability360 Sports and Fitness Center.
For the second straight week, the Ability360 Center in Phoenix had a distinct smell of burning rubber. It was from the rapid dashes for the ball and pivots on the floor during the 21st Annual Phoenix Division II and Division III Basketball Invitational.
Five teams played during the Saturday/Sunday affair: The Tucson Lobos (DIII), TIRR Houston (DIII), The Magee 76ers Spokesmen (DIII), and two Phoenix Suns Teams (DII and DIII).
The invitational is an important stepping-stone for teams who will be attempting to qualify for March’s NWBA Division II/Division III Championships in Wichita, Kan., like the Magee 76ers Spokesmen.
The Magee 76ers Spokesmen, who play in the Philadelphia area travel especially to this invitational every year to test the waters against West Coast teams. They use the games to fundamentally gauge where their team is as a whole.
“We primarily play East Coast teams, so this gives us a look at other competition around the country,” Magee 76ers Spokesmen center Bill Romano says. “It shows us what is out there nationally.”
The Division III Phoenix Suns team are also in the process of trying to gauge their own personnel. This season, all division III players on the squad from last season were bumped up to Division II rankings, because the team placed second overall at the NWBA Championships.
“The team is really coming together and they have completely gelled,” says Suns Division III Head Coach Dan Clemente, “It’s difficult because different players mean different abilities on and off the court, some of the players who have played before are getting too old for the team and so we have to bring up more of the novice players right now.”
The Suns division II team, who were playing on home court during the Invitational, also saw action in last week’s Division I Invitational, as special invited guests.
“This time is a little different,” Justin Walker of the Suns Division II Team says. “The skill level is going to be a little lower than last week, but still, we as the Suns take pride in what we do, which is the small things. This week is definitely an opportunity to improve on the small things.”
No matter what the tournament has in store for the teams, one thing is for certain according to Walker.
“We go out there and we have fun and handle our business,”
Division II and Division III will play at the NWBA National Championships March 12-14, 2020.