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Ecuador Coach John Escalante Makes A Point Ecuador Coach John Escalante Makes A Point

FIBA

Ecuador: Into the Fire

Photo: Paul Hendren

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St. Catherine’s, Canada –  Deena Spivak couldn’t hide her own butterflies.  “ They are so nervous,” was her assessment during Ecuador’s shoot around before their encounter with the well- oiled hosts from Canada.  The subject of her observation were twelve young men from Ecuador.  They had arrived on Canadian soil to defend their national pride during a regional tournament in which eight teams converged in St. Catharines.  Only four would garnish a place in the upcoming U19 World Championships next year. Unofficially, Spivak was the South Americans’ den mother throughout the tournament – always an ear shot away to assist.   Officially she was the team’s attaché – a volunteer assignment given to her by Canada Basketball. Internalizing the pressures of the young players she was asked to oversee, during a week that hosted the region’s elite basketball countries, seemed to be a workplace hazard.  “How could I not be nervous,” was Spivak’s retort to the writer’s query. “They are all great kids.”

Ecuador qualified for the FIBA Americas tournament after capturing third place in South America behind Continental powers Argentina and the fast climbing Chileans.  The FIBA U18 Americas Championship was the country’s first foray into a FIBA mainstream international basketball event since participating in the 1950 World Championships hosted in Argentina.  Basketball has been alive in Ecuador but always shaded away by the national obsession and tribalism of soccer.  During times of economic prosperity the Liga Ecuatoriana de Balancesto, Ecuador’s top professional league, was a common stopover for many talented American players and a place to garnish a reasonable pay cheque for Venezuelans, Columbians, Peruvians and Chileans. Recently, the country’s economic struggles have resulted in a brain drain of local talent while many other imported mercenaries are electing to take their talents elsewhere.

John Escalante Ecuador Into The Fire

Ecuadorian U18 Head Coach John Escalante – Photo: FIBA

For Ecuadorian U18 Head Coach John Escalante, a high school Phys Ed teacher at an American  school in Quito who shares his time as a Provincial Head Coach,  the task of recruiting 12 of the country’s best young players  to compete with some of the planet’s more talented basketball players was daunting. No easy undertaking for a country split into 24 provinces in three distinct racial divides.  Escalante , his oversized glasses that consumed his never ending frown and his fiery disposition, looks every part coach , teacher and master tactician.  But he takes pride in the fact that all 12 players who represented Ecuador were Ecuadorian by birth right. A few countries in the tournament in St. Catharines had naturalized players who held passports of countries other than the ones they were representing on the hardwood.

Coach Escalante just didn’t drop into coaching overnight.  His father was a basketball coach, his uncle coached the game and his brother was once considered the best player in the country.   To carry on with the family tradition he has coached the game for 30 years and from all indications he has many more years left on his clipboard.   When describing his own coaching philosophy Escalante stated: “straight to the hole with my guards shooting threes to compensate for our size.”

Michael Moncayo Is Itching For A Chance To Play In The NCAA

Michael Moncayo Is Itching For A Chance To Play In The NCAA

Luis Riascos, a tall lanky wing, has been an anomaly among his Ecuadorian peers.   Riascos was verbally offered a scholarship to play in the United States during the South American qualifying in Lima, Peru.   For Michael Moncayo it has been a life- long dream to take his impressive guard skills to either an American University or to Europe.  While representing Ecuador in St. Catharines the 5’10” Moncayo filled up the box scores with an array of offensive stats and feared no guard on the other side of the ball.  Moncayo thrived under the spotlight. The 17 year old Moncayo and his 16 year old brother Mateo formed a significant part of the Ecuadorian team’s back court.  Both brothers learned the game during their formative years from their father in Macas, a small agricultural community in the shadows of the rainforest.  Basketball was well rooted in this community of just over 19,000 and the elder Moncayo was a basketball coach who shared his wealth of basketball experience with his two sons. Michael started playing competitively at the age of eight while Mateo when he was six years old.   Both boys were significant cogs within Club Iccan de Macas, a team that captured a national club title in 2017.  

Young Ecuadorian players are identified for national team duty through the ‘intercolegial’, a long high school tournament that is completed throughout each province.  From those competitions players are selected by Provincial coaches to compete in national team pools.  Provincial coaches further select players as the final group suitable to represent Ecuador.  The pool for the U18 team was moved to Quito where they were housed together and trained three to four days a week. Training sessions and scrimmages regularly attracted several hundred onlookers at Julio Cesar Hidalgo Coliseum – one of Ecuador’s two main basketball stadiums.  For Coach Escalante he would liked to have seen more resources placed into his team’s  preparation. He is concerned that basketball in Ecuador deserves more resources as compared to soccer which always seems to get the attention of the politicians. Escalante reported that basketball is a significant growth activity among young people  within Ecuador’s changing sports culture. “Basketball will never overtake soccer as Ecuador’s most popular sport but it is now 2nd in the country,” announced a man who has dedicated his life to seeing basketball get it’s rightly dues.  “Kids at all age levels now want to be part of a national team,’” he stated.

Six games in seven days and the boys from Ecuador failed to post a victory as debutants in their FIBA initiation.    But the new pioneers from South America certainly left Canadian soil knowing that a return engagement to any FIBA competition is not out of the realm of possibilities for teams representing Ecuador.  Their baptism by fire will leave a legacy for young Ecuadorian players to follow.   

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FIBA

Record 17 Canadian NBA players invited to 2019 FIBA World Cup Training Camp

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Cory Joseph Leads Canada Basketball 2016 Olympic Qualifying Roster

Canada Basketball has released it’s highly anticipated 2019 FIBA World Cup training camp roster.

Loaded with 29 high-skilled Canadians — 17 currently under NBA contracts, the roster is Canada’s best-assembled talent of all-time and represents the country’s best shot at reaching the podium at the upcoming 2019 FIBA World Cup in China — and potentially earning a return trip to the 2020 Olympics games in Tokyo.

Tough decisions will need to be made by recently announced head coach Nick Nurse who will have the difficult task of cutting multiple NBA players for the first time in order to finalize the final 12-man roster that is expected to be committed to the goal from training camp through the World Cup.

2019 SMNT Training Camp Roster

Top Canadian Basketball players not invited

Record 17 Canadian NBA players invited to 2019 FIBA World Cup Training Camp
Andrew Wiggins absent from FIBA 2019 World Cup

Other Canadian NBA players under contract but absent from the list included Andrew Wiggins (Twolves), Anthony Bennett (Houston Rockets), Kyle Alexander (Miami Heat) and Knicks rookie Ignas Brazdeikis — a dual-citizen that is expected to opt to play for Lithuania. Other former NBA players omitted from the list include Andrew Nicholson, a 2012 draft-pick, 19th overall selection of the Orlando Magic and Olivier Hanlan a former 2015 second-round pick of the San Antonio Spurs.

Canada will kick-off a short 3-day training camp from August 4-6 at the OVO Athletic Centre in Toronto before embarking on a loaded exhibition schedule that features two games on home soil against Nigeria and a final marquee-matchup against the USA on August 26th.

2019 Canadian Senior Men’s National Team Schedule

DateTime/TeamTimeLocation
August 4-6 Training Camp OVO Athletic Centre – Toronto, ON
August 7 Canada vs. Nigeria (Exhibition) 7:00 PM Mattamy Athletic Centre – Toronto, ON
August 9 Canada vs. Nigeria (Exhibition) 8:00 PM Bell MTS Place – 
Winnipeg, MB
August 16 Canada vs. Australia (Exhibition) 5:30 AM RAC Arena – 
Perth, Australia
August 17 Canada vs. Australia (Exhibition) 5:30 AM RAC Arena – 
Perth, Australia
August 20 Canada vs. New Zealand (Exhibition) 5:30 AM Quaycentre – 
Sydney, Australia
August 21 Canada vs. New Zealand (Exhibition 5:30 AM Quaycentre – 
Sydney, Australia
August 26 Canada vs. USA (Exhibition) 5:30 AM Qudos Bank Arena – Sydney, Australia
September 1 Canada vs. Australia
3:30 AM
FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019
China
September 3 Canada vs. Lithuania 7:30 AM FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019
China
September 5 Canada vs. Senegal 3:30 AM FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019
China

Major time zone difference

Outside of the two home games against Nigeria, Canadian basketball fans should brace themselves and get ready for early morning basketball depending on which coast you reside in. Sydney, Perth, Australia and China are a whopping 14, 12 and 12 hours ahead of Canadian eastern time zone – meaning early morning Tim Hortons to support the national pride.

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FIBA

USA ends Mali’s historic run win 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup Gold Medal

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Usa Ends Malis Historic Run Win Record 7th Fiba U19 World Cup Gold Medal

The United States of America are back on top of the FIBA U19 World Cup.

Two years after finishing a record low, third-place in Cairo Egypt — the Americans defeated and ended rising African champion’s historic basketball run with a 93-79 victory over Mali to claim the 2019 U19 World Cup in Heraklion, Greece.

The USA fought off a hot and confident Mali squad playing in their first ever FIBA World Cup finals to win their record seventh FIBA U19 gold medal.

Champions Usa Ends Malis Historic Run Win Record 7th Fiba U19 World Cup Gold Medal
USA 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup Champions – Photo: FIBA

Mali got off to an outstanding start on the strength of Hassan Drame’s 9 points, as Mali ripped off a 11-0 run and took a early 11-3 lead with 6:58 to play. The USA pounded Mali on the offensive glass pulling down 13 offensive rebounds on their way to out-rebounding the African side 19-12 in the quarter to quickly close the gap as Mali led 22-20 lead after 10 minutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CHR64fDqmw

The USA went to a 3-2 zone early in the second-quarter and slowly grinded Mali out with tight defense and relentless offensive rebounding to finally take a 37-36 lead, their first since leading 3-0. A late three-pointer, the USA first of the half, put the Americans ahead for good at with a 42-40 at half-time.

Scott Barnes Jr Flexing Usa Ends Malis Historic Run Win 2019 Fiba U19 World Cup Gold Medal
USA Scott Barnes Jr flexing against Mali at 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup Gold Medal game -Photo: FIBA

The USA opened the third-quarter with a 14-0 run, holding Mali scoreless for the first 3:00 minutes of the second-half and forcing Mali head coach Alhadji Dicko to call a time-out to restore orders as the lead swell to double-digits at 54-40.

Mali showed their resiliency and pride, fighting until the final whistle to close a game-high 20 point lead to single digits at 84-77 — on a made pull-up three pointer by Martin Diakite with 4:11 to go. The USA clamped down, allowing Mali just two points the rest of the way for the 14 win.

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Cade Cunningham Usa Ends Malis Historic Run Win Record 7th Fiba U19 World Cup Gold Medal
Cade Cunningham throws down a major dunk over Oumar Balla – Photo: FIBA

Undeclared point guard Cade Cunningham paced a loaded USA offense with 21 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists and had several highlight reel dunks. The 6’7″ Montverde Academy standout holds offers from Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Virginia and a long-list of major suitors. Jalen Suggs added 15 points and 5 rebounds. Scott Barnes Jr. finished with 11 points and 8 rebounds and tournament MVP Reginald Perry also finished in double figures with 10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.

Mail had four players in double-figures led by continuous all-around talent of Hassan Drame with 17 points, 9 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 assists. Karim Coulibaly (Pittsburgh Panthers) showed a nice soft touch around the rim with 17 points and 3 blocks. Gonzaga commit Oumar Ballo came-up short of fourth straight double-double and finished with 15 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks.

Ballo, a sure-shot NBA prospect showcased multiple Point guard Siriman Kanoute capped off a stellar tournament with 16 points , 4 rebounds and 3 steals.

2019 Fiba U19 World Cup All Stars
2019 FIBA U19 World Cup All Stars – Photo: FIBA

2019 FIBA U19 MVP & All-Stars

Joel Ayiyi – France
Oumar Ballo – Mali
Tyrese Haliburton – USA
Siriman Kanoute – Mali
Reginald Perry – USA

The USA had previously beaten Mali twice at the 2017 World Cup — 117-69 and 118-56, a 55-point margin of victory.

2019 FIBA U19 Final Standings

StandingsTeamRecord
1USA 7-0
2Mali 5-2
3France 5-2
4Lithuania 4-3
5Russia5-2
6Puerto Rico 2-5
7Serbia5-2
8Canada3-4
9Australia 5-2
10Greece3-4
11Argentina 5-2
12Latvia 1-6
13New Zealand 4-3
14Philippines 1-6
15Senegal 1-6
16China 1-6

Boxscore USA vs. Senegal

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