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Canada Basketball looks to impress in the future

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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.

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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.

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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 21st at 2019 FIBA World Cup reach Olympic Qualifier with 82-76 loss to Germany

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.

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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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