LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The New York Rollin' Knicks upended the Dallas Wheelchair Mavericks' quest for a four-peat with a 76-53 win at the 2014 National Wheelchair Basketball Association National Championships. It was the Knicks' first NWBA title.
The final featured two teams with contrasting styles.
Dallas, with U.S. national team point guard and 2013 MVP Jason Nelms, plays uptempo on both ends of the floor. Down five at halftime to Golden State in the quarterfinal, the Mavericks smothered the Warriors with defensive pressure in the second half and outscored their opponents 39-19.
Throughout the tournament, New York used its size advantage to overpower teams on the defensive end, allowing few second-chance points. However, it was the offensive production of Canadian national team regulars Patrick Anderson and David Eng that made the Knicks' extra length matter.
This should have been a classic size versus speed matchup, and the first 12 minutes of the game played true to form. The teams battled to a 22-22 tie, and both played to their respective strengths.
With eight minutes to play in the first half, the Mavericks began a string of eight consecutive missed field goals. The Knicks commanded the boards, but rather than waiting for Dallas to get into its full-court defense, New York leaked Anderson down the court and passed the ball out quickly to the big man.
The result was an 18-0 run. Anderson contributed to every Knick point, shooting 6-of-6 from the field and dishing out three assists. Anderson finished with a triple-double (33 PTS, 11 REB, 14 AST, 4 STL) and was named the tournament's MVP.
Generally considered the best wheelchair basketball player in the world, with one silver and three gold Paralympic medals, Anderson retired from the game in 2011 to study music in New York City before coming back for Team Canada in the 2012 London Games. He and Eng joined the Knicks this season and combined for 55 of the Knicks' points in the championship game.
The Mavs' Nelms had a night to forget, shooting an anemic 6-of-21 from the floor (0-4 3PT). As a team, Dallas was 21-of-50 for the game. The Mavs were led by Jared Arambula with 18 points, while Bobbie Nickleberry and Jason Nelms chipped in 14 apiece.
Dallas, down 44-24 at the half, put in the effort to make a couple of runs, but poor shooting and the Knicks' defensive rebounding kept the spread over 14.
The Championship Division completed a week of championship tournaments, and six divisional champions were crowned from the 82 participating teams. The entire tournament was contested on the floors of Louisville's Expo Center, which brought in 12 full-length hardwood floors. The sight of a dozen courts laid out under one roof lent a sense of scale to the championships.
"By far and away, from my three years (leading the NWBA), it was the best tournament we've offered to our membership," NWBA executive director Randy Schubert told reporters.
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