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FIBA

Andrew Nembhard: Harder, better, faster, stronger

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Andrew Nembhard caught a pass on the left wing at the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines, Ont., one day before the FIBA U18 Americas tournament was set to begin, and calmly drilled a three.

His squad ran the play three times more, and he launched daggers from the same spot.

Money.

Bucket.

Miss.

The opposing squad took the ball and played until it missed a shot.

Then Nembhard, a wily veteran at 18 and captain of Team Canada, took over again.

He was, in the brief stretches open to media, exactly what a captain should be: assertive on offence, tenacious on defence, level-headed throughout.

Nembhard is quiet but confident and well-spoken, a five-star recruit known as much for the strength of his character as for his impressive skill set.

This is exactly the kind of role he ought to be in, guiding an elite team as it tries to qualify for the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup.

But there were no guarantees he would be here at all.

A little more than a year ago, Nembhard, a star point guard at Montverde Academy near Orlando, fell ill and was rushed into surgery at a Florida hospital.

He was reportedly dealing with volvulus, a twisting of the intestines that causes an intestinal obstruction. Doctors removed a portion of his intestines, and he went into septic shock.

“Going through it, you don’t think you’re going to die,” said Nembhard in an interview with BasketballBuzz.

“You just kind of go through it with a positive mindset. Other people around me—especially my father [Claude], was keeping a really positive mindset with me.

“We were always talking about how I’m going to be back on the court really soon, how everything’s going to be fine.”

Within a few months he was back with Montverde, helping fellow Canadian R.J. Barrett lift the team to a 35-0 record and a national U.S. high school championship.

Andrew Nembhard Harder Better Faster Stronger Team Canada
Team Captain Andrew Nembhard alongside Emmanuel Miller and A.J Lawson – Photo: FIBA

Now he’s here, Captain Canada, ready to take on the world.

“I just feel blessed, and just grateful that I had such a great supporting cast around me when I was going through a tough time,” he said.

“And I think all these blessings that have come to me [are] because I’ve been working hard. [With] the support of others, I’ve gotten to this point.”

Nembhard is a key player on a Canadian team favoured to contend in and possibly win the U18 Americas tournament, likely with Team USA as its toughest competition.

There are just four returnees from Canada’s 2017 World Cup team, which won a gold medal with Barrett, the continent’s top-rated high school player, leading the way.

Barrett is preparing for his freshman season at Duke University, and absent from the 2018 Americas tourney. The only returning players are Emanuel Miller, Joel Brown, Tyrese Samuel and Jaden Bediako.

A healthy Nembhard would likely have been part of the 2017 World Cup team, and he admitted he would have loved to play on it.

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But now he’s here, gunning for a championship, ready to lead.

“Over the last couple of years I’m really trying to improve my leadership skills, both vocally and by example,” he said.

“I’m more of a quiet guy, but I think over the years I’ve kind of come out of my shell a little more.

“I feel like I’m being much more vocal now. I’m really comfortable with this group of guys. I feel like I can be myself.”

Michael Meeks, Canada Basketball’s manager of men’s youth player development and an assistant coach with the U18 team, has said the team has a target on its back, and Nembhard acknowledged that’s likely the case with Team USA.

“I feel like it’s good pressure, though,” he said. “I feel like we’re all motivated to win another one.

“We just want to work harder and harder and try to be the best in the world.”

Andrew Nembhard Harder Better Faster Stronger
Andrew Nembhard vs Australia at 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship – Photo: FIBA

This fall, Nembhard will suit up for the Florida Gators, a team looking to replace senior point guard Chris Chiozza, the school’s all-time assists leader.

There are no guarantees Nembhard, the No. 26 recruit in America according to ESPN, is Chiozza’s immediate successor.

For now he’s here, ready to make his mark.

“My goal is to try to win a starting spot on the team, play as much as possible, and just help my team in any way I can to win,” he said.

“That’s defensively, offensively, being a leader, coming off the bench—whatever I need to do to kind of help us win as [many] games as possible, hopefully win the national championship.

“That’s what I want to do.”

Duke is an early favourite to win the NCAA title, with an immensely talented roster that includes Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish—the top three recruits in the class of 2019.

Still, Nembhard likes his chances.

“I think Florida definitely has a chance of beating Duke,” he said. “Every team in college basketball is beatable.”

Next season will be the first time in many years Nembhard does not play with Barrett, a close friend and potential No. 1 NBA Draft pick.

He welcomes the challenge.

“I think we both play really well together, but I think we both have more to show that—when we’re away from each other,” he said.

“I feel like this is just a good opportunity for me to show more of my game, the scoring side of my game, especially—just to bring out more leadership in my game.

“I think it’ll be a good opportunity.”

What matters for now is that he’s here, competing for an international title on home soil.

Here, doing what he was born to do. Here, pursuing greatness.

Here, and stronger than ever.

“I feel like I just attack everything in a more motivated way,” he said.

“I feel like I just cherish and thank people for what they do so much more … just cherish everything.”

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FIBA

España FIBA Campeon Del Mundo

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España FIBA Campeon Del Mundo
Scream if you want to go for Gold in Tokyo...

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!”

YOU!

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).

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Spain 2019 Fiba World Cup Champions
Spain Basketball 2019 FIBA World Cup Champions – Photo: FIBA

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?

What the?

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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FIBA

France Say Au Revoir To United States In FIBA World Cup

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France Say Au Revoir To United States In Fiba World Cup

Bonjour.

From ‘Dream’ to ‘Redeem’, call it what you will but last night in Dongguan, China was a nightmare for Team USA as the United States were sent packing from the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

And it was France who gave Greg Popovich team it’s last kiss last night…and Tony Parker was nowhere in sight, apart from some applause emojis on Twitter in celebration.

A year before the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and many teams (including the U.S. and Canada baby!) clinching their berths for the Japan games in this tournament, this tourney was more than just a precursor or appetizer for the main event to come in a calendars time. It was a competitive game of brackets for all or nothing in its own right. Not to mention a showcase of just how talented the world’s game is, their teams and the individual talents of players themselves. If you haven’t been tuning in like the media networks with no coverage you’re really missing out and the point like TP9. From Giannis Antetokounmpo showing just how much he gives his body up for club and country. And the Hustle of Memphis Grizzlies Japanese G-League regular Yuta Watanabe showing that when it comes to the Olympics next year it’s not just a Washington Wizards top pick who will be big for Japan. Call him up!

And then of course there’s former Parker backup and Spurs man Patty Mills clicking and lowing the boom with his ruling Aussies as his New Zealand neighbours do the Haka that could even put The Rock’s ‘Hobbs and Shaw’ fast and furious movie Samoan war dance in a hard place. But when it came to Popovich’s countrymen they just couldn’t pop against France as red white and blue beat the stars and stripes 89-79. Ending a 58 non exhibition game winning streak that Dream Teams have kept awake for longer than the wonderful women’s U.S. soccer team.

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If you ignorantly thought that Basketball had no borders outside America (and really? It’s 2019! Who does apart from Trump? Besides this is a Canadian site), then you really won’t now. France made a statement and those (Laker fans) who social media say that the Walker, Tatum, Brown and Smart Celtics couldn’t even beat France and Kyle Kuzma wouldn’t let this happen shouldn’t take this away from the nation who beat them, fair and block to dunk square.

And besides young to veteran superstars with exuberance and (Rio 2016) experience like Donovan Mitchell and Harrison Barnes respectively and respectfully couldn’t get it done either.

The U.S. played well and will be back to their best next year (but need to bring more big guns and names to the Olympic Games), but France just played better. Much better. From the stifling Eiffel Tower of Rudy Gobert with 21 points, 16 rebounds and 3 beautiful looking blocks from the view up there. Beautiful but brutal as Mitchell and Kemba Walker in the clutch can attest.

“We came here to win Gold,” Gobert told press postgame for a team who wants to lift more World Cups than their soccer counterpart. Between four point plays from Nicolas Batum and a team leading 22 from Evan Fournier on a 50 percent 4 for 8 from three from way back in Paris, this side didn’t even need Spurs like Parker or Boris Diaw. Especially when they had MVP and Knick, Frank Ntilikina. All that side needed was heart and they had it in abundance as France looked better than those Jumpman Paris St Germain black hoodies with Jordan in the A.

And anyone who wants to make this more about the U.S. needs to listen to Brooklyn Net and three point contest winner from downtown China Joe Harris, “We certainly didn’t deserve to win that game.”

Amen.

Let that or Au Revoir be the last word.

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