NWBA: To Play Ball or Not at All

The NWBA had a decision to make about whether or not to play the Adult division I, II, III and junior tournaments this week.

Novel coronavirus threatens play, but the Toyota National Wheelchair Basketball Championships adult division will carry on

The coronavirus transmission fears made it a wild and crazy first day of the 2020 Toyota National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) Wheelchair Basketball National Championships in Wichita, Kansas.

On Wednesday evening, the NWBA canceled its NWBA Junior Division tournament and decided to go ahead with the Adult division as planned.

Then, on Thursday, the NWBA Board of Directors agreed to condense and shorten the Adult Division I, II and III tourneys by a day. The NWBA Board of Directors reorganized brackets, ending games after the championships at 3 p.m. Friday at Wichita Hoops in Bel Aire, Kansas. Saturday will not go on as planned.

No one was more relieved to see the tournament continue more than the organizers, especially Brandon McBeain, NWBA director of membership services and programs.

“The NWBA is like a family,” McBeain says. “With all the news going on out there, regardless of an epidemic or coronavirus, there are a number of people who made the commitment to travel here to Wichita. We are only doing right by the people who made that commitment to be here and wanting to be here and giving them a place and platform to play their game.”

The NWBA also committed to help prevent the spread of the virus. Procedures were put in place: sanitizing the game ball and practice balls as much as possible between games and washing hands often. There was also an unspoken agreement by all teams that there was to be no touching of hands for high fives, and teams wouldn’t shake hands.

 

One way of containing the illness at the NWBA Championships was to not shake hands and touch elbows during team handshakes for good sportsmanship. Mar. 12, 2020 (Photo by Josh Eisenberg).

 

The day after the National Basketball Association suspended its season and the NCAA banned audiences from its men’s and women’s national tournaments because of COVID-19 transmission fears, eyes were squarely looking upon Wichita, Kansas, home of the 2020 Toyota National Wheelchair Basketball Championships.

At around 1:30 p.m. Thursday, the news broke about MLB canceling the rest of spring training baseball and the NCAA canceling its men’s and women’s baskeball tournaments. Pressure was mounting on the NWBA organizers to do something to calm the concerns of those in attendance.

The NWBA Board of Directors and the event planning heads met to discuss their concerns. NWBA Chief Executive Officer Will Waller addressed the crowd of team leaders, giving an update to the tournament, addressing why they made the decision to keep the adult tournament running.

“Since the vast majority of the teams were already here and interested in moving forward with the event, given that the people here were the athletes or the immediate family members of the athletes, they have already incurred the travel to maintain the event,” Waller says. 

Waller then told the team leaders that if their teams felt unsafe playing in this tournament, under no pressure or punishment, the team had the right to back out and leave the event. 

A Division I team, the NMCSD Wolfpack, was the only team that decided to forfeit and leave the tournament.

Other teams such as the Division II and III Magee 76ers drove 22 hours on a team bus to make it to Wichita for the championships, according to team officials. 

“I refuse to live in fear. I can live in fear when I am dead,” Magee 76ers Division III player Dave Romano says. 

At the time, Waller didn’t know the status of the Intercollegiate Championships and the Women’s Championships. However, the decision was made as a group later that night at the NWBA Annual Board of Directors meeting that for the safety of all players, officials and fans that the events will not take place. 

As for the scores from Thursday’s action:

Division I scores –

New York Rollin’ Knicks 1, Kansas City Predators 0 FORFEIT

Utah Wheelin’ Jazz 69, Golden State Warriors 63

Milwaukee Wheelchair Bucks 76, Albuquerque Kings 51

Mary Free Bed Pacers 73, NMCSD WolfPack 61

Seattle Sonics 56, Rancho Halos 54

MedStar NRH Punishers 67, Miami Heat Wheels 38

Toronto Rollin’ Raptors (1) 77, LA Hotwheels 34

Dallas Wheelchair Mavericks 80, Toronto Rollin’ Raptors (2) 35

Dallas Wheelchair Mavericks 68, Toronto (1) 50

LA Hotwheels 54, Toronto (2) 40

Albuquerque Kings 1, NMCSD WolfPack 0 FORFEIT

Milwaukee Wheelchair Bucks 82, Mary Free Bed Pacers 63

New York Rollin’ Knicks 72, Utah Wheelin’ Jazz 43

Golden State Road Warriors 1, KC Predators 0 FORFEIT

Miami Heat Wheels 71, Rancho Halos 62

Medstar NRH Punishers 71, Seattle Sonics 46

 

Division II scores –

Tampa Bay Strong Dogs 66, Ability360 Phoenix Wheelchair Suns 52

OKC Wheels of Thunder 66, Ft. Lauderdale Sharks 61

Wisconsin Thunder 61, Shepherd Stealers 42

Courage Rollin Timberwolves 70, Magee Spokesmen 55

LWSRA Hawks 50, LA Clippers 42

TIRR Memorial Hermann Hotwheels 56, Detroit Pistons 25

Madonna Magic 65, Nassau Kings 56

Cincinnati 62, Sioux Falls 49

LA Clippers 32, Detroit Pistons 22

Sioux Falls 77, Nassau Kings 67

TIRR Memorial 50, LWSRA Hawks 30

Cincinnati Royals 57, Madonna Magic 56

Ft. Lauderdale Sharks 61, Ability360 Phoenix Wheelchair Suns 58

Tampa Bay Strong Dogs 59, OKC Wheels of Thunder 50

Magee Spokesmen 46, Shepherd Stealers 41

Wisconsin Thunder 47, Courage Rolling Timberwolves 42

 

Division III scores –

Music City Lightning 40, Brooklyn Nets 36

Shepherd Stealers 1, Kansas City Wheelhawks 0 FORFEIT

Louisville Spokes & Spires 50, Tucson Lobos 21

LWSRA Hawks 50, Harrisonburg Cardinals 39

Brooks Ballers 55, Magee Spokesmen 28

Rockford Chariots 58, Music City Lightning 30

Louisville Spokes & Spires 57, Shepherd Stealers 48

Tacoma Titans 64, LWSRA Hawks 50

Brooks Ballers 55, Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets 52

Brooklyn Nets 55, Harrisonburg Cardinals 39

Magee Spokesmen 41, Tucson 25

To see all the action from Friday’s competition, visit: https://m.facebook.com/NWBA70

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