At the inaugural FIBA Under-17 World Championship, the Canadian Men’s National Team accomplished what few before it had ever done – earn a medal at an international event.
The bronze medal performance is a clear indication Canadian basketball is on the rise on the world stage and should be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
Some of the youngsters who could carry the torch for Canuck hoops are already highly touted prospects south of the border. Considering the recent trend of home grown talent migrating for greener pastures in the United States, the return of some of these prep school standouts has improved the quality of basketball on the national level.
Not all of Canada’s best young players have made the trip state-side, but by no means has that created a disparity between talents. Many resident Canadian players have garnered the same attention as their expatriate peers. In the coming years, Canadians seen playing basketball at a high level is sure to increase. Here are some names to look for:
Cory Joseph, 6-foot-3, Point Guard – Joseph has impressed NCAA recruiters with his stellar play at Findlay Prep in Nevada for the past two seasons and will be taking his skills to the University of Texas this fall. Joseph’s court awareness and shooting range make him one of the top point guard recruits in all of North America. The only thing holding him back from super stardom could be his athleticism, but what he lacks in explosiveness he’ll make up in the only way he knows how – winning. In two seasons with Findlay, Prep Joseph led it to an impressive 62-2 record, collecting two national titles along the way, this after winning a provincial title with Pickering High School in Ajax, Ontario.
It’s a foregone conclusion that Joseph will be a major part of the junior team before making an impact on the senior level.
Duane Notice, 6-2, Guard – Being one of the youngest players on the cadet U-17 team, Notice has been in the spotlight since his freshman year when he averaged 30 points and eight assists per game for the St. Michael’s College School Blue Raider Varsity team in Toronto. His athleticism and versatility have made Notice a hot commodity, earning himself an invite to the Jordan Brand Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York. Getting chosen wasn’t enough for the Woodbridge native as he took home MVP honors for the event. The 15-year-old has expressed his desire to remain in Canada for high school and will undoubtedly be part of Canada basketball for years to come.
Tristan Thompson, 6-9, Power Forward – Thompson has been an intriguing prospect for some time now as he is a unique combination of size and athleticism. He is already being touted as a first-round NBA draft pick and his freshman year at Texas will definitely aid his progression. Having played alongside Joseph the past two years at Findlay Prep, the Brampton native will continue to develop with his countrymen as he is the second piece in what Canada basketball hopes to become a star-studded tandem.
Maurice Walker, 6-10, Center – One of the biggest players available to college recruiters, Walker has the intangibles to possibly make a name for himself on the pro stage. The former Mother Teresa Titan star possesses a highly refined offensive skill set, with an array of post moves and an extremely soft touch around the net. The Scarborough native has a game similar to former Kentucky Wildcat and current Sacramento King DeMarcus Cousins, as his lower base makes him virtually unmovable when he’s parked in the lane.
Having left for prep school in his senior year, Walker improved his stock by showing he can produce against the bigger competition in the United States. He will be able to showcase his talent while playing for the University of Minnesota this coming season and will surely factor into the future of Canada Basketball.
Kevin Pangos, 6-1, Point Guard – For years scouts have scrounged across Canada in hopes of discovering the next Steve Nash, and the search should end upon seeing Pangos play. The Ontario native has been highly regarded as the future face of Canada Basketball and his play at the U-17 tournament showed why the accolades are so grand. The composure and control the 17-year-old possesses are well beyond his years and the comparisons to Nash seem warranted. Pangos led the U-17 squad in scoring and took home top honors as the No. 1 point guard of the tournament. Every time the ball’s in his hands, it seems the right play will be made whether it be finding a teammate or calling his own number. There have been a number of teams expressing interest in Pangos, but he will remain in Canada to complete his senior year before heading to the United States for college. He’s expressed his desire to be a part of the national team for as long as he can play and he will be one of the key components to their success.
Kyle Wiltjer, 6-9, Power Forward – Wiltjer’s ability to post up, shoot from outside, pass and rebound make him one of the most well-rounded recruits in the United States.
Having played his entire high school career in Portland, the 17-year-old is an import who has received offers from a number of schools, most notably Gonzaga and Kansas. Despite his American upbringing, the 6-9 forward wants to represent his nation and will have every opportunity to do so.
Myck Kabongo, 6-1, Point Guard – Continuing with the trend of successful point guards, the Toronto native has showed he’s more than just a pass-first player. In the All-Canada Classic, a tournament showcasing the top talent across the nation, Kabongo exploded for 41 points, using a variety of slashing moves to get to the rim and unleashing a 3-point barrage to take the MVP honors. The 6-1 guard has exceptional quickness and uses it to get to the rim and create opportunities for his teammates. Though not the biggest player, his length is evident on the defensive end as he creates numerous turnovers with his lanky arms. Kabongo is sure to be a contributor to the Canadian contingent and will take his game to Texas and unite with fellow Canadians Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson as they try to bring much needed attention to the Canada Basketball program.
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.
France Say Au Revoir To United States In FIBA World Cup
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.
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.”
Let that or Au Revoir be the last word.
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