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Canada begins “New Era” with hard fought 85-80 win over Argentina

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Canada begins "New Era" with hard fought 85-80 win over Argentina

Canada’s Senior Men’s National Team (SMNT) officially kicked-off “The New Era” of Canadian Basketball with a hard-fought and well deserved 80-85 win over an experienced and physical Argentina team at the 2015 Tuto Marchard Cup in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Head coach Jay Triano who guided Canada to a Silver Medal at the 2015 Pan Am Games on home soil (Toronto) finally unleashed “Canada’s Dream Team” to the World. The opener of the tune-up tournament for the Olympic qualifier (FIBA Americas) also featured the SMNT debut of Andrew Wiggins, who last donned the Canada Red and White back in 2012 at the FIBA Americas U18 championships in Brazil.

Anthony Bennett Putback Dunk vs. Argentina

Anthony Bennett Putback Dunk vs. Argentina

Wiggins wasted no time making his impact felt by scoring the games first five points on two silky smooth jumpers as Canada raced out to a 13-4 lead on the Argentinians and newly signed Toronto Raptors Luis Scola. Canada shot the lights out and found themselves up 30-23 at the end of the first-quarter on 11-of-15 (73%) shooting from the floor and 6-of-9 (67%) from the shorter international FIBA three-point line.

Wiggins finished the quarter with 9 points and with Cory Joseph (Toronto Raptors) on the sideline (veteran rest day), former Carleton Ravens standout point guard Philip Scrubb got the starting nod and contributed 5 points and 2 rebounds in the opening quarter.

Canada’s superior athleticism and overall depth started to dominate as Anthony Bennett, fresh off a strong showing at the Pan Am Games got involved in the second-quarter, scoring inside and cleaning the boards as the Canadians took control of the game including a first-half, game-high lead of 13 points at 41-28 on an Andrew Nicholson triple. Canada closed out the quarter poorly as Argentina capitalized on several avoidable turnovers to cut Canada’s lead to single-digits, 45-37 at half-time.

The third-quarter saw the physicality meter turn-up as Argentina slowed the pace, but failed to threaten, as Canada maintained a comfy 7-8 point margin, until a  6-0 run pushed the deficit to 60-45 with 1:19 remaining and an eventual 60-50 lead with one quarter to play.

Argentina slowly chipped into Canada’s lead and outscored the Red & White 16-6, forcing a 66-66 tie with 4:24 to play. The two teams continued to trade baskets and with the game up for grabs on yet another inside two-point basket by Scola and with Canada clinging to slim 79-77 lead with just 37 seconds to play head Coach Jay Triano called
a timeout.

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Without any hesitation, he drew-up a designed play to get Andrew Wiggins the ball in the flow of the offense.

And just like he had done before at the U18 games in Brazil and at the 2010 FIBA World U17 championships in Germany, Wiggins delivered yet another clutch play when his team needed him most, this a time a silky smooth baseline jumper to put Canada ahead 81-77 with 26 seconds to play and earn their first victory of “Canada’s Dream Team.”

Wiggins finished with a team-high 18 points, 2 rebounds on 6-of-13 shooting and 2-of-4 from the outside. Anthony Bennett continued his stellar player over the summer by notching yet another double-double with 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds including a team-high 33 minutes. Philip Scrubb 12 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and Dwight Powell’s 11 points and 5 rebounds also reached double-figures for the Canadians who snapped a four-game losing skid at the Tuto Marchand Cup going 0-4 in 2013 and enacting some revenge against an Argentina team that killed any hopes of Canada earning a shot at inaugural 2014 FIBA World Cup.

“I thought it was a good, hard-fought game,” discussed Wiggins after his much awaited debut. “It was physical, both teams played well. We’ve got a new group of guys so we’re still coming together. You can see that we’re getting more fluid with what we do.”

Canada out-rebounded Argentina 44-27 but turned the ball over 19 times and finished the game shooting 27-61 (44%) and 9-of-29 from the outside.

With 13 players on the roster Jay Triano, Dave Smart and the rest of talented Canadian coaching staff have the tough decision to cut one more player ahead of the 2015 FIBA Americas Philip-Scrubb-Canada-vs-ArgentinaChampionship. Depending how things go over the next four games Triano will have to decide on weather he wants three point guards (Cory, Joseph, Hanlan, Philip Scrubb), if not which one will back-up Joseph. Other names being carefully examined include Aaron Doornekamp and Melvin Ejim.

The Canadians will look to make it two in a row as they take on 2016 Olympic Games hosts Brazil in their second-game of the 2015 Tuto Marchard Cup.

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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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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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