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Canada opens up 2019 Pre-FIBA World Cup schedule with 96-87 win over Nigeria

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Canada Opens Up 2019 Pre Fiba World Cup Schedule With 96 87 Win Over Nigeria
Photo: Edilson J. Silva

Toronto, Ont. — Canada’s men’s national basketball team kicked-off a seven game 2019 Pre-FIBA World Cup award tour with a 96-87 win over Nigeria.

Head Coach Nick Nurse was successful in his debut — guiding Canada to the victory despite only three practices and nearly reaching the century mark against the best current African basketball nation.

Montreal’s Khem Birch was a force to be reckoned with — scoring 14 of Canada’s 30 points in the paint to lead four Canadians in double digits. The Orlando Magic forward added 4 rebounds and 3 steals. Birch dominated a physical and athletic Nigerian team by shooting 6-for-8 from the floor while playing a team-high 24 minutes including several highlight dunks.

Kyle Witjer continued were he left-off in the FIBA qualification rounds with 14 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists on 4-of-9 three-pointers. Burlington, Ontario’s Brady Heslip also knocked 4-of-5 triples and finished with 12 points and 3 assists.

Canada Basketball Head Coach Nick Nurse Talks To Khem Birch And Kevin Pangos
Canada Basketball Head Coach Nick Nurse talks to Khem Birch and Kevin Pangos – Photo: Edilson J. Silva/BasketballBuzz

Canada knocked down 15-of-36 (41.7%) three-pointers and limited Nigeria to just 5-of-31 (16%) from downtown.

Melvin Ejim showcased his all-round game to the capacity crowd with 11 points and four rebounds in just 17 minutes.

Cory Joseph orchestrated the Canadian offense with game-high 9 assists to go along with 6 points and 6 rebounds.

Canada’s offense racked up 28 assists against a reasonable 14 turnovers.

Nigeria was led by Minnesota Timberwolves’ high-flying guard Josh Okogie with a game-high 18 points. Stanley Okoye added 16 points. Al-Farouq Aminu pulled a game-high 11 rebounds and 7 points.

Kelly Olynyk Injury Canada Vs Nigeria
Kelly Olynyk Injury Canada versus Nigeria – Photo: Edilson J. Silva/BasketballBuzz

Kelly Olynyk injury

From our view and angle – It did not look good, and Canadian fans should definitely brace themselves for no Olynyk moving forward. It appeared that Olynyk slipped on wet spot and landed awkwardly on his right knee. The Miami Heat forward and veteran Canadian player attempted to get back on his feet via some help from Nigerian forward Al-Farouq Aminu but immediately went down wincing in pain. Olynyk did manage to eventually get back-up and had brief conversation with Cory Joseph — but immediately went to the locker under his own power.

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Jamal Murray + RJ Barrett courtside

Despite being unable to participate, both Jamal Murray and RJ Barrett sat courtside next to the Canadian bench. Both players were expected to play for Canada but unfortunately were forced to sit out due to nagging injuries.

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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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FIBA

France Say Au Revoir To United States In FIBA World Cup

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France Say Au Revoir To United States In Fiba World Cup

Bonjour.

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.

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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.”

Amen.

Let that or Au Revoir be the last word.

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