As this article is being written we are mere hours away from one of the opening highlights of the 2010 South Africa World Cup. England are about to take on the USA in a football…excuse me, a soccer game. The anticipation is at a fever pitch.
Despite the strides that the USA has made in this sport over years England still appear the favorite to win this game. They have the talent, the history and the experience. England should not simply dismiss their opponent however as the US do have more than a decent chance. A couple years back however this would have been a different story. So these days’ clichés may not have completely worn off but there certainly getting old. Americans can play football and Englishman can ball.
Believe it or not but it’s true, neither country may be dominating these respective sports but they are definitely improving fast. The English basketball league is improving by the year and the recent champions the Everton Tigers (Under the same umbrella as the football team Everton) even made it into American basketball magazine ‘SLAM’.
The big focus in the UK however is the national side ‘Team GB’. Especially with the next Olympic Games being held in London in 2012. The team is looking very strong right now with a decent pool of talent. This team has come a long way from the days when their most famous player was John Amaechi, who over recent years has become more infamous for his ‘coming out’ book rather than the talents he had as a player. Thankfully these days the reason British basketball is getting exposure is due to what is happening on court.
The talent is leaving fans drooling at the mouth more than Beethoven (the dog from the movies, not the composer) and Glen Davis combined. The anticipation is so big that the team’s official webpage is named www.gameongb.com. The reason that this anticipation is so high could have something to do with the fact that the team features two prominent NBA stars who have declared that they will play for both club and country, Luol Deng and Ben Gordon.
These are two guys that are not only former teammates and players experienced in winning big games they are also real, developed talent. They are guys that Team GB doesn’t have to wait on; they are already big time contributors. Gone are the days where British fans would hang on to the little British ties stars had like Steve Nash’s family roots or the fact that Ray Allen spent time in Ipswich. British basketball finally has its cover stars.
Luol Deng, born in Wau, Sudan but of British nationality after emigrating to Brixton has been the ‘new’ poster boy of British basketball for some time now. He has climbed up the Chicago Bulls ranks past players who at first where seen as guys who would leave this dynamic forward languishing on the bench. He has spent year after year in the NBA whilst withstanding consuming injury and international duty to craft himself as one of the top tier talents in this league in scoring and all, round play. He even spearheaded last years NBA Europe Live exhibition game featuring his then victorious Chicago Bulls against the Utah Jazz in London. In this game he displayed his talents and leadership for not only his team but his country. He did this in front of his hometown fans from Brixton and other corners of London and the whole world watching on TV.
Ben Gordon, who was Born in Britain and has dual citizenship with the US may no longer be playing alongside Luol in Chicago but the experience he garnered doing this will pay off in dividends for him and his former running mate and more importantly his national side. Ben was a big time player in the Chi. He was and still is quick, clutch and savvy. Alongside Deng Gordon was one of the Bulls premier go to guys leading the stampede. His charges included making dangerously deep shots and forceful aggression at the basket. Even in his rookie year Gordon was so hot that Chicago was almost declaring that there was a new Benny the Bull in town. Ben’s college experience with the University of Connecticut’s NCAA Championship team gave him veteran confidence in his first year. We all remember his teardrop against the Knicks. These days Ben has been given the responsibility as one if the main Pistons motoring forward the new, rebuilt Detroit franchise. The location may have changed but the game hasn’t. Ben Gordon is still one of the freshest, developing talents in the league.
So in this Team GB set Luol will be the ‘franchise’ guy leading the way on the court and in the team’s heart. Ben will be more than ‘the other guy’ or ‘the co-pilot’. He’ll be the big time scorer and more importantly the clutch player, which in international competition against talented teams such as Spain and Argentina could be decisive.
Team GB’s talents don’t just begin and end with Deng and Gordon however. The talent derived from the national basketball organizations of England, Scotland and Wales is full of young, hungry talent. Ballers like Tottenham born; former Toronto Raptors versatile forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu and swingman Andrew Sullivan. Head Coach Chris Finch and his assistants Tony Garbelotto, Tim Lewis and Nick Nurse have there sights set on a new beginning for a team who only ever made the Olympics once in 1948. The interesting thing about this team is that even as the host nation for the 2012 Olympics their place isn’t guaranteed. They have to prove their competitiveness to FIBA, the international basketball federation. From the looks of things this team looks ready to prove themselves.
The Eurobasket 2011 qualifiers this August will prove a big enough stage for this British team to prove if they are worthy enough for the European stage let alone the world, Olympic stage. Lead by two NBA go to guys with renewed focus and motivation behind them this team looks ready to given it everything they have. Which, by the looks of it appears to be a lot more than most people think.
Dominicana barks back defeats Canada in AmeriCup 2021 OT qualifying thriller
Canada’s Senior Men’s National Team (SMNT) shock-off a slow start, forced overtime before losing a controversial, yet thrilling 88-84 overtime road game to the Dominican Republic at the FIBA AmeriCup 2021 Qualifiers in Santo Domingo.
Multiple ties and a total of twelve lead changes turned up the energy as both teams exchanged jabs in an exciting fourth-quarter. Trailing 75-73 with five seconds remaining in regulation — after the Dominican Republic failed to ice the game at the free-throw line, Canada appeared to have won the contest with a walk-off game-winning three-point shot by Conor Morgan that sent the entire team running off into the tunnel for a jubilant locker-room celebration.
The euphoria quickly ended and the celebration halted as the referees reviewed the shot and confirmed it as a two pointer — overturning a correct call that sent the game into overtime after a 75-75, 40-minute deadlock.
The referee, standing within three-feet of Morgan, and with clear 2020 vision lifted her hand to signal a three-point shot, but for some odd reason changed her call. Further video evidence shot by a fan sitting courtside clearly showed, and confirmed that the Canadian player was indeed behind the three-point line, albeit being extremely close.
Canada failed to match the Dominican Republic’s intensity early on and trailed 18-9 with 2:01 to play in a physical, foul-plagued, slow-moving first-quarter that finished with the home team ahead 22-16 after 10 minutes. Overall the Canadian’s shot just 3-for-12, turned the ball over six times but stayed within striking distance thanks to 9-of-12 free-throws.
The whistles kept on coming, the fouls started to pile-up and the pace turned to a snails’ race as both teams struggled to get anything going in the second-quarter. Canada’s Aaron Best acrobatic layup and thunderous inbounds alley-oop energized Team Canada. A late Dominican Republic triple maintained their six-point cushion with a 39-33 half-time lead in a evenly played 17-17 quarter.
The late arriving home crowd continued to fill the Palacio de los Desportes arena just in time to see the local team extend the lead to a game-high 10-points with the scoreboard showing 50-40 with 3:09 to play in the third-quarter.
Philip Scrubb (Richmond, BC) quickly shifted the momentum in Canada’s favour with a personal 9-0 run on back-to-back triples and an old-fashioned hoop plus the harm three-point play forcing a Dominican timeout. Canada extended the run to 12-0, contributed by poor-fouling shooting by the Dominican Republic to take 52-50 lead.
With the game hanging in the balance in the extra session Luis Montero drilled a clutch spot-up baseline three-pointer to give the Dominican Republic a 86-82 edge as they hung on for the thrilling overtime win.
Scrubb finished with a game-high 26 points on 6-of-13 field goals, 4-of-9 triples and 10-of-13 free-throws. The CD Estudiantes guard of the Spanish Liga ACD added 6 assists, adding 2 rebounds in a nearly 40 minutes of game action. Kaza Kajami-Keane (Ajax, Ont.) hit some big shots and finished with 15 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds and Aaron Best (Toronto, Ont.) was great with 15 points, 3 rebounds on 6-of-11 field-goals and 3-of-7 triples before fouling out.
Andrew Nicholson failed to find any consistency and fouled out in the three-quarter with 7 points and 6 rebounds. In total four Canadian players were disqualified as Canada was called for a total 32 team-fouls.
Eloy Vargas once again was the top player for the Dominican Republic with 16 points and 5 rebounds. The veteran 6’11 forward and former Kentucky Wildcat had and outstanding showing in the opening window of the 2021 FIBA Americas qualifiers. Rigoberto Mendoza added 12 points, 4 rebounds and Gelvis Salon stuffed the stat-sheet with 10 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds.
The Dominican connected on 31-of-72 (43.1%) field goals, including 9-of-27 (33%) from downtown and a sub-par 17-of-31 (54.8%) from the foul-line. Team Canada finished 25-of-65 (38.5%) from the floor, 11-of-32 (34.4%) from three-point land and slightly improved free-throw shooting 23/33 (69.7%).
Canada (1-1) will resume the FIBA 2021 AmeriCup qualifiers on November 26, 2020 with a game against Cuba (1-1).
Canada romps Dominican Republic in opener of FIBA AmeriCup 2021 qualifiers
Canada kicked-off the 2021 FIBA AmeriCup qualifiers with a lopsided 89-72 home win over the visiting Dominican Republic at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre (CRWC) in Oshawa, Ontario.
Trailing 40-35 at half-time Team Canada outscored the opposition 54-32 in the second-half to pull away for the double-digit 17-point win. Canada outscored the Dominican 30-18 in the third-quarter and further limited the Caribbean nation to only 14 points in the final 10 minutes.
Andrew Nicholson (Mississauga, Ont.) playing in his first game for Canada since 2017, paced four players in double-figures with 16 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. A key figure on offense for Canada, the 6’10’ former NBA bigmen connected on 7-17 shots and threw-down several dunks — including a big time one-hander that got the standing room crowd to it’s feet.
Philip Scrubb (Richmond, BC) continued to prove his worth with 14 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists on 3-of-7 three-pointers. Kaza Kajami-Keane (Ajax, Ont.) sliced and diced his way to 12 points, a game-high 8 assists and 3 rebounds. Former Ryerson Rams’ guard Aaron Best (Scarborough, Ont.) rounded out the top scorers in the starting line-up with 9 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists.
Trae Bell-Haynes (Toronto, Ont.) played well in his national team debut with 9 points, 4 assists and MiKyle McIntosh (Toronto, Ont.) 9 points, 5 assists helped Canada’s bench outscore the Dominican Republic 32-12. All 12 Canadian players got in the game and 11 scored at 3 points.
Canada, ranked 21st in the FIBA world rankings knocked down 32-of-61 (52.5%) field goals and hit on 13-of-34 triples. The foul-shooting on the other hand was pretty poor, with Team Canada findin the bottom of the net on just 12-of-21 (57.1%) attempts.
Canada’s defensive pressure forced the Dominican’s into 20 turnovers — leading to 29 points off of those mistakes for the Canadian’s.
No. 19 Dominican Republic, returned eight players from the 2019 World Cup. Victor Liz the team’s leading scorer in China had a game-high 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Eloy Vargas was next in line with 16 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists and Angel Delgado finished with a near double-double with 12 points and 8 rebounds.
Unforeseen last minute technicalities forced the game to be moved from the Tribute Communities Centre to Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre — the beautiful new home of the Durham College Lords and University of Ontario Tech Ridgebacks.
The two teams will play again on Monday in the Dominican Republic. A road victory in hostile territory would put Team Canada in good shape to win Group C with upcoming games against No. 50 ranked Virgin Islands and No. 64 Cuba in the two remaining qualification windows.