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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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Andrew Wiggins Canada Basketball

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.

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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

Triano steps aside as Canadian national team coach

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Jay Triano Olympic Dot Ca

Jay Triano has officially stepped down as the head coach of Canada’s senior men’s national team.

Canada Basketball made the announcement this morning, confirming media reports that circulated on Sunday.

“I can’t thank Jay enough for all he has done for basketball in Canada,” said Glen Grunwald, president and CEO of Canada Basketball, in a statement.  

“As both a coach and player, Jay is a Canadian icon and has played a major role in the development of basketball within our country and we will forever be grateful for his contributions. 

Jay Triano 2 Olympic Dot CA
Jay Triano is among the most accomplished coaches in Canadian history. Photo: Canadian Olympic Committee

“After speaking with Jay, I’m hopeful we can find a role where he can continue to contribute to Canada Basketball in the future.”

Triano is the first Canadian-born and Canadian-trained coach to work in the NBA, starting as an assistant with the Toronto Raptors in 2002 and later promoted to head coach.

He is currently the lead assistant coach with the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.

As head coach of Canada’s national team from 1998 to 2004, Triano led the team to a seventh-place finish at the 2000 Olympic Summer Games in Sydney, Australia.

Canada has not returned to the Olympics since then, but it figures to be a contender to play at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

Triano returned as head coach in 2012, guiding the club to a pair of victories during the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers.

As a player, Triano served with Canada’s national team from 1977 to 1988 and was team captain for the final seven years of his tenure.

He was elected to the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.

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Roy Rana Canada's National Basketball Team Coach Sitting FIBA Qualifiers Pointing
Roy Rana 2019 FIBA Americas Qualifiers – Photo: FIBA

Ryerson University head coach Roy Rana is among three other candidates being granted interviews to replace Triano, according to Sportsnet’s Michael Grange.

The other candidates are Gord Herbert, who played for Canada at the 1984 Olympics; and Ettore Messina, an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs.

A final decision is expected by March 31.

Multiple reports say Triano cited “personal reasons” for taking his name out of the running, but he did not elaborate.

Team Canada’s next major test will be the 2019 FIBA World Cup, starting Aug. 31 in China.

Triano steps aside at a high point in Canadian basketball, with dozens of players in the NBA and at elite NCAA schools, including Barrett’s son R.J. Barrett, a Duke University standout who is projected to be a lottery pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

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FIBA

Canada draws Group of Death 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup

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Cory Joseph Canada Basketball Draws Group Of Death 2019 Fiba World Cup

Canada’s path to a 2019 FIBA basketball World Cup medal and hopes of a 2020 Olympic berth took a serious blow prior to the start of the games as No. 23 Team Canada was drawn into the group of death — alongside global powerhouses No. 6 Lithuania, No. 11 Australia, and No. 37 Senegal.

2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup Groups

2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup Groups

For Canada to have a shot at getting to the podium they will have to finish in the top two spots of Group H to advance to second round of the tournament — where the top 16 teams will be split into four new groups (Groups I, J, K, L). If it reaches that stage Team Canada will once again have to finish in the top two to advance to the quarter-finals.

Canada’s road to the 2020 Tokyo summer Olympics is a complex and tough process — given FIBA’s decision to make the World Cup apart of the qualification process. Seven spots are currently up for grabs at FIBA’s flagship event and with hosts Japan earning an automatic entry the room for error is minuscule.

To reach the Olympics, Canada will have to finish as one of the top two teams from the seven team America’s region that features the world’s number one squad in the United States of America alongside traditional mainstays Argentina, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Venezula and Puerto Rico.

If Canada is unable to secure a spot as one of the two top America’s region teams, they will hope to be amongst the top 16 teams at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup where they will be granted automatic qualification to a last chance tournament taking place next summer at a yet to be determined locations. If unable to finish in the top 16, Canada’s last hope would be one of the last eight countries that FIBA would invite for one of the last-chance qualifier tournaments.

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Therefore, if Canada has any hopes of qualifying for the 12-team 2020 Summer Olympics via the World Cup they will need to advance from Group H one as top two teams, failure to advance in the premilinary round will automatically put Canada’s hopes at the mercy FIBA via the invitation tournament only.

Should Canada reach the second-round they will be placed in the newly formed Group L, alongside Group G winner and runner-up — potentially setting up another group of death with No. 3 France, No. 11 Germany, No. 11 Australia or No. 6 Lithuania.

To make matters worse for the Canadians, they have been pooled on the same half of the draw as the United States — which would mean a potential quarter-finals match-up between the two neighbouring nations, if Canada can somehow get there.

If the Canadians can reach the quarter-finals there is a good chance they alongside the USA would be last two standing Americas teams — thus earning automatic berth to Tokyo 2020.

As evident, by the World Cup draw and given FIBA’s recent changes it’s clearly going to be a tough road for the Canadians to fullfill their 2020 vision of becoming a global basketball powerhouse.

Canada opens up the World Cup against Australia on Saturday August 31st and will take on Lithuania on two days rest on Monday September 2nd beforing concluding Group H action against Senegal on Wednesday September 4th, 2019. All of Canada’s preliminary round games will be played in Dongguan, China

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