Prague, CZ – (BasketballBuzz) – USA vs. Canada regardless of sport, competition or age group always brings the best of the two nations. Unfortunately for Canada the results between the two at U19 level haven’t been kind to them. The Americans are 6-0 against Canada’s Junior Nationals dating back to July 2009, including a 54-point trashing, 113-83 in 2012.
When the 2013 Junior Men’s National Team Training Camp rosters were announced by both the USA Basketball and Canada Basketball one couldn’t help but look head at the potential clash between the two neighboring countries. Specially at a time where Canada’s growth of Basketball is at an all-time high.
Given those results one would wonder, why should we all be salivating at the possibility of what on paper is pretty much guarantee to be another American blow out victory?
The Simple Answer, Andrew Wiggins!
The opportunity to see Wiggins, Trey Lyles, Tyler Ennis and company perhaps represented the best opportunity for Canada to make that loud statement that they have finally arrived. Or more importantly, help close the huge gap that has stood between the two nations.
With Wiggins decision to focus on Kansas those chances have diminished greatly, which is rather disappointing for this special group because even at full strength, the challenge to defeat the USA would’ve been enormous and would’ve required a special performance like the one that occurred on August 2005 in Mar del Plata in Argentina.
A closer look at the archives revels that the last time Canada defeated the United States at Junior National level was at 2005 FIBA U21 World Championships, when it got one of the best individual performances to date, as former Pittsburgh Panther and veteran member of Canada’s Senior National Team Levon Kendall unleashed a 40 point, 12 rebound master-piece to pull off a 93-90 over-time shocker.
The American squad featured Rajon Rondo (Boston Celtics), Rudy Gay (Toronto Raptors), J.J Reddick (Milwaukee Bucks) & Glen “Big Baby” Davis.
The two nations will once again meet, this time at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championships. The United States comes into the highly anticipated prime-time quarter-final match-up with a perfect 6-0 record while averaging a tournament best 95.3 points per game and limiting their opponents to just 52 points.
Yes, that is margin of victory of 43 points.
Canada (3-3) the sixth ranked country in the World is riding a two-game winning streak and playing their best basketball of the tournament after two tough losses against Spain (81-70) and Croatia (79-66) to open the World championships.
Leading the way for the Americans is Aaron Gordon (Arizona Wildcats) with 13.7 points and 6.8 rebounds and 6’10 Center Jahil Okafor with 12 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.
Tyler Ennis (21.3 points, 3 assists) and Trey Lyles (19.5 rebounds, 8.8 rebounds) and have carried the Canadians and both sit at the top of the scoring list. Ennis started the tournament by pouring four straight games of 20-plus points including a team-high 28 points in a disappointing lose to Lithuania after holding a 19-point lead. Trey Lyles has been as good, if not better than advertised with four double-double in six games and also ranks (6th) at the top of the rebounding leaders.
All eyes will be on Canada – for the first time in a long, long time a meaningful amateur basketball game will be televised nationally across Canadian airwaves with the only unfortunate part being that that everybody has done their part to ensure that this moment would be as meaningful as possible. To bad Wiggins will not be there to either put on the individual performance required to pull off the shocker or help close the large 28-point margin of victory that has separated the North American rivals.
The choice to represent your country at the international level is an individual decision which is often influenced by many factors and in the case of Wiggins, the choice of skipping this Golden opportunity is not one that should labelled as selfish, arrogant and nor should it be an indicator of his intentions to not represent the Maple Leaf in the future.
Rather, we should look at this, simply, from the perspective of a lost opportunity.
Lance Stephenson Makin’ ‘Em Dance In China
Remade in China.
From playing with LeBron and the Lakers last season. To getting an early start in the Far East for this one. Getting in opponents faces like he used to do when he went up against the King. Blow in his face all you want…but its just hot air.
Lance Stephenson is back baby!
Like you’ve never seen him before. Running his town in China for the Liaoning Flying Leopards.
To quote Charlie Murphy talking about Prince in an infamous Hollywood stories episode of Dave’s ‘Chappelle Show’, “this cat can (still) ball man”!
To those who think a couple of strings have popped off Stephenson’s guitar then just watch him play and strum along. Lance is still makin’ ’em dance with the NBA’s most famous celebration…except the league just lost it and one of their premier performers and fondly favourite, cult celebrities in the amazing association of epic entertainment.
Turns out the Lakers should have held on to their veteran big name meme team a little longer. Although they did re-up with pure point Rondo running the show and the centre who should start in JaVale McGee. But in not keeping one of their biggest bench presence spark plugs of camaraderie and chemistry since the days of Rony Turiaf or even Mad Dog, Mark Madsen, this is almost as heart-breaking as losing all the kids in the Hollywood divorce for Anthony Davis. But we love reunions almost as much as we love redemption in this league and with BIG3 MVP Joe Johnson inking a deal with Detroit that is going to see the Motor City Pistons assembly line cut former Laker Michael Beasley. We may just see this fellow wild card, big contributing star head back to the Chinese league he finished out the season with like he hasn’t just flown home already. We know one Leopard who would welcome him with back open paws and any other player with a name beyond a meme, not caring if he never changes his spots.
Just when you thought Ice Cube’s inspired BIG3 was the only prescribed route for former NBA players to EA get back in the game like museum exits via the gift shop then check out this exhibit. You only have to check a FIBA feed and see how France French kissed the United States out said tournament a year before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Japan to see that this game is truly global. It’s far more than just the United States. It’s the whole wide, watching and welcoming world. And one of the biggest hubs like everything in this world from business, to commerce and innovation is in China. Now that’s some development even the G-League can’t give you old man.
Coney Island’s own legend Stephon Marbury became an icon here, remaining after he retired…and this guy was a superstar under the Times Square, World’s Most Famous Arena lights of being a New York Knick in the Madison Square Garden of hallowed hoops Eden.
Are you listening Carmelo?
You too Dwight…give it a couple of months.
With 35 and 10, double decadence in the playoffs, Lance just put an end to San Miguel like last orders at the bar and now next rounds on him as he mime guitars until the fat lady falsettos in her stilettos to everyone raising a glass in toast.
The all dunking and big shot scoring player looks like he’s stepped into a rejuvenation machine…until you see just how much he afforded with his spare chance minutes last year on the biggest stage in Hollywood. He looks like he’s having a Swayze. And Chinese Basketball in turn the time of its life.
All Stephenson needed was another chance. And boy is he taking it right now. At this point Lance will be back in the league before you can say “it’s opening night at the STAPLES Center.” But at this point would he even want back, causing big trouble in a not so little China?
(As a matter of fact after press Lance Stephenson lead his Leopards over Seoul to win both the Terrific 12 and the tournament MVP…like Jay what more can we say?)
España FIBA Campeon Del Mundo
When Spain won the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa almost a decade ago this writer was in London seeing a friend from Seoul, South Korea. From Oxford Circus to the fountain tops of Piccadilly Circus there looked like a million Spanish people lining the streets that all lived here in the Big Smoke (F### Brexit! Multicultural is beautiful). And despite the honking horns and raised glasses it was the most peaceful, beautiful sports celebration I have ever seen. No hostility, just community. A Spanish man fell to his knees in front of me like he’d just scored and grabbed my hand with both of his in prayer. The most beautiful Spanish woman I’ve ever seen in her nations strip and scarf walked past me whilst trailing her fingertips across my arm and asked me flirtatiously whilst giggling, “who won the World Cup!”
Just an old memory to reminisce as we begin.
No Muleta could ever stop this raging red Spanish bull.
Ever since way before Kobe and Pau went from teammates to rivals every Summer, Spain have been one of the biggest nations in Basketball and certainly the most complete team. And now even without the older Spanish G.O.A.T. Gasol watching at home in his uniform and with Team USA given freedom by the bronze placed France, Spain proved once again that they aren’t only the most consistent and best team in Europe…but the greatest in the whole wide world.
Right now and forever more on the way to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
This FIBA tournament has been something else in its self. And if this writer wasn’t about to start his own road to Japan he would have been able to enjoy it even more. But shout out to editor Edilson Silva’s wrists for keeping us in touch with the tournament on Twitter.
Even without the power of Pau, or many big names in the legendary legacy of the last decade of the Spanish side (no Sergio Rodríguez, Juan Carlos Navarro, Nikola Mirotic, or Serge Ibaka), the Spanish team still ruled like soccer or their basketball brother team Barcelona. As legends like Rudy Fernandez, Ricky Rubio and of course Marc Gasol cut South America’s Argentina down to 20 point blowout, 95-75 size like Luis Scola’s trademark hair (but what a run of play for a member of the team of the tournament).
Marc made his mark as the second player in history to be an NBA Champion and a FIBA World Cup one in the same year, although unfortunately fellow Toronto Raptor Ibaka couldn’t join him. But what a Summer for the first player to do this since the Lakers Lamar Odom almost a decade back in 2010. Only a year after Marc Gasol’s draft rights were traded by the purple and gold for brother Pau.
“The rest of the world have been caught up for quite some time”, like Kobe Bryant said. “The days of the ’92 Barcelona Dream Team are gone”.
Now that’s as true as the U.S. coming in fourth place like half the States had a dance recital.
Congratulations to the real Dream Team…yeah I said it.
Ricky Rubio had 20 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists and no one deserves it more.
Marc Gasol had 14 and 7 in both rebounds and assists.
Sergio Llull had 15.
Rudy Fernandez 11, 10 and 3.
And both Juancho and Willy Hernangomez both had 11 too.
Now what more can you possibly say like reacting to that practice pregame half court heave underarm…from behind the back like a Globetrotter?
Gabriel Deck led the way for Argentina with 24 whilst the likes of old rivals and friends Kobe Bryant and Tony Parker watched from courtside in a sold out arena in Beijing. Whilst Scola scored 8. Argentina were valiant in the final like they were the whole terrific tourney until they were slain by Spain.
Now expect Spain to control the Japanese Olympics in Tokyo next year like a matador.
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