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.
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 a 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, 2 rebounds in 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 statsheet 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.