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2013 FIBA U19 World Championships: Canada vs. USA: Historically a lopsided affair, will it be any different without Andrew Wiggins?

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BasketballBuzz Magazine

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.

Must Read:  Canadian Freshman Syracuse Orange PG Tyler Ennis Declares For 2014 NBA Draft

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.

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FIBA

Canada draws tough group for 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifier

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canada draws tough group for 2020 fiba olympic qualifier
Khem Birch and Team Canada to face stiff competition at FIBAOQT - Photo: FIBA

Canada’s Senior Men’s National Basketball (SMNT) faces a tough road to the 2020 Olympic tournament after drawing stiff competition at the official qualifying draw in Switzerland.

No. 21 Canada will play in tough group A in Victoria, British Columbia against No. 7 ranked Greece and reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Team Canada will also face rising No. 24 China. Group B features No. 43 Uruguay, No. 10 Czech Republic, No. 15 Turkey.

Canada will need to win the last minute Olympic qualifying tournament at home to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic games.

The top two teams in each group advance to the semi-finals in a crossover game. The tournament runs from July 23-28. The top four teams from each tournament will advance to Tokyo and will join an already impressive field that includes hosts Japan, Argentina, Australia, France, Spain, Iran, Nigeria and the United States.

2020 fiba olympic qualifying tournaments
2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament

The Czech Republic finished in sixth-place at the recently completed 32-team World Cup in China with a record of 4-4 — with losses coming to the USA 88-67, Greece (84-77), Australia (82-70) and Serbia (90-81). Greece missed out on a top 10 finish after a disappointing 3-2 showing. Turkey showed flashes of brilliance finishing a spot below Canada at 22 with a 2-3 record — losing a close 93-92 group game against the USA.

China also finished with a 2-3 record dropping close games to Poland (79-76), Venezuela (72-59) and Nigeria 86-73. Uruguay, the lowest ranked team of the six is the only team that didn’t qualify for the World Cup.

greece giannis antetokounmpo 2019 fiba world cup basketball
Hellas’ Giannis Antetokounmpo is coming to Canada for the 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament – Photo: FIBA

The six teams coming to Victoria this summer all feature proven NBA star-power, headlined by the Hellas’ Giannis Antekonmpo. The Czech Republic has crafty Chicago Bulls point guard Tomas Satoranksy and Turkey also boasts power forward Ersan Ilyasova of the Milwaukee Bucks, point guard Ceidi Osman of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Furkan Korkmaz of the Philadelphia 76ers.

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Despite the growing global NBA player presence – it is Canada that features the most international players in the world’s best league. After a disappointing 2-3 showing at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Team Canada is expected to put together it’s best roster in years’ — already garnering early official social media commitments from two of Canada’s rising stars. Denver Nuggets’ Jamal Murray and OKC Thunder Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have officially announced their intentions. Dillon Brooks of the Memphis Grizzlies, Khem Birch of the Orlando Magic and New Orleans Pelicans’ guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker have also made it clearly evident that they will be on hand to help Canada end it’s 20-year summer Olympics drought that dates back to 2000.

Must Read:  Canada Basketball Looking To Gain Respect This Summer

Canada will kick-off the tournament against Greece on June 23rd and will play China the next day with a rest day in-between — before the semi-finals on June 27.

2020 fiba olympic qualifying tournament competition format
2020 FIBA Victoria Olympic qualifying tournament competition format

One thing to keep in consideration is the proximity of the qualifying tournament to the NBA Finals. Game 1 on the 2020 NBA Finals is set for Thursday June 4th 2020 and if stretched the distance it will run until Sunday June 21st leaving only two days before the start of the crucial tournament. Both the Milwaukee Bucks and the Toronto Raptors are amongst the favorites to win the Eastern Conference and should they reach the NBA finals it will be interesting to see how it will affect player turnout and other last minute decisions.

Canada’s coaching staff is led by Raptors’ head coach Nick Nurse, Greece recently appointed former Kentucky Wildcats head coach Rick Pitino.

Canada failed to reach the 2016 Rio Olympics via the FIBA qualification tournament, falling to eventual fourth-place finisher France in a hard-fought 83-74 battle in Manila, Philippines.

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FIBA

Lance Stephenson Makin’ ‘Em Dance In China

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lance stephenson makes em dance in china
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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”!

GOOD!

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.

Must Read:  2013 Canadian Junior Men's National Team roster finalized + players analysis & more

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.

Cheers!

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?)

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