Jontee Brown chosen to represent Australian Spinners at IWBF World Championships

BENDIGO wheelchair basketball ace Jontee Brown says he has always wanted to visit Toronto.

But he never expected it to be as an Australian representative.

The 19-year-old has been named in the Australian Under-23 Spinners team for the 2017 IWBF World Championships, to be held in Canada from June 8-16.

His selection followed an impressive performance for the national team in Bangkok at the Asia Oceania Zone world championship qualifiers in January.

Ten players who were part of that team will again represent the Spinners, with the addition of two others.

Brown, who travels to Melbourne for training twice a week and also plays in the Bendigo competition most Wednesdays, said it was a privilege to be able to wear the green and gold.

"We've got a goal and that is to get better each game," he said.

"I think we underpeformed in Thailand a bit, but coming off that we've identified what we need to improve on.

"I think going forward we can be a team to look out for."

Brown has only been playing wheelchair basketball for 13 months.

He turned to the sport after being diagnosed with reactive arthritis in his left knee, the aftermath of a tumble down a sinkhole while on a volunteer trip to the Philippines in early 2015.

Brown spent an initial weeks in hospital on his return to Australia and has had several surgeries since.

He is not confined to a wheelchair, but combines it with crutches.

"I still see specialists and surgeons to see what the next process is with the knee, but for now it's crutches," he said.

After playing nine years of able-bodied basketball in Bendigo, Brown said wheelchair basketball was a natural crossover.

"The basketball side of things have been pretty easy and cruisiy, but the chair skills and just being in a chair has been the hard part," he said.

"I've got a lot to learn still.”

Curiously, Brown's appearance in the Spinners team for the Asia Oceania qualifiers earned him the rare distinction of representing his country without having ever played for his state.

"Prior to that I had been trying out for the Victorian under-23s team, but didn't get to pay for them until April in Townsville," he said.

"We got bronze up there and was privileged enough to be named captain.

"Representing Australia's been pretty surprising, but real enjoyable and exciting considering you get to slip on a green and gold jersey and play against some of the best guys in the world."

Australia will face the host nation Canada, Turkey, Brazil, Italy and Iran in pool A at the championships.

The USA, Japan, Great Britain, France, South Africa and Germany will do battle in pool B.

Brown said he was grateful for the continued support of the Bendigo basketball and wider community as he strives for gold in Canada.

"Bendigo Stadium has always backed me and the Bendigo wheelchair team," he said.

"And I have a lot of family and friends who really get behind me, which is great not only for me but disability sports."