Marines lead the way during the 2014 Warrior Games. Photo Tom Kimmell
Marines dominate in wheelchair basketball on day 2 of Warrior Games
A lot of excitement spread throughout the United States Olympic Training Center as Day 2 of the 2014 Warrior Games presented by Deloitte featured the opening wheelchair basketball match ups.
The U.S. Marine Corps (1-0) started off hot and never cooled down, using a full team effort to put the Special Operations Command (0-1) away 36-9.
The Marines executed an aggressive defensive approach right out of the gates, not allowing a single basket during the first 10 minutes of the game. At one point during the first half, the Marines were up 20-1.
“Defense was the most important,” Marine point guard Anthony McDaniel (Gautier, Mississippi), a veteran, said. “We’ve got to play good defense in order to keep them from scoring easy points, and that’s the best way for us to throw them (SOCOM) off their game.”
McDaniel used several steals, some fancy dribbling and his extreme quickness to weave around the SOCOM defenders all night, finding open teammates for easy fast break points.
Dominant post play by powerful Marine veteran Jorge Salazar (Delano, California) was the key on the offensive end of the court. His length build gave him the advantage down low and he always seemed to have inside position, allowing for easy shots around the rim.
“You want to use your big man,” Salazar said. “By having a longer reach on everybody else, that makes for plenty of easy baskets right underneath the goal. I’m going to do that every single time, until someone can stop it.”
Salazar would finish the night with a game-high 12 points on 5-9 shooting from the field.
Despite going down in the opening round, a less experienced SOCOM team has not lost its positive outlook for the Warrior Games.
“This was our first time playing together and it was against a senior, experienced team,” said Marine Corporal Justin Gaertner (Lutz, Florida), a member of the Special Operations. He led the way for SOCOM, finishing with team-high four points. “If we played like that against any other team, I think we would have a win.”
Gaertner and the SOCOM wheelchair basketball team will have the opportunity to prove just that, facing an Air Force (0-1) team that lost to Navy in round one by a final score of 38-19.
Army (0-0) will match up against an undefeated Navy (1-0) squad, while the Marines will take advantage of a bye on Tuesday night. Army defeated Marines for the last three Warrior Games titles in wheelchair basketball.
Games start at 5:30 p.m. at U.S. Olympic Training Center, Sports Center 1 and Sports Center 2. Admission to all competitions is free and open to the public.
For more on the 2014 Warrior Games presented by Deloitte, visit teamusa.org/warriorgames/.
Originally published by Team USA. All rights reserved.