If anyone is looking for a true hero of Canadian basketball in recent times, they should look in the direction of the unheralded Jermaine Anderson.
He is, perhaps, consigned to a national team career of anonymity because fans and the scribes will always remember the man who played point guard before him.
How many times, even after playing well in big wins for Canada, has Anderson heard Steve Nash’s name?
It even happened after Anderson’s finest hour in a Canada jersey last summer at the FIBA Americas Championship.
Anderson had led all scorers with 21 points and fired the Canadians to an 80-76 upset of the Dominicans, a victory that clinched a spot at the FIBA World Championship.
Yet for one reporter, the question had to be asked of Canada coach Leo Rautins.
Will Steve Nash return and play in Turkey?
“Steve Nash has had an open invitation,” Rautins said.
“Anytime he says he’d like to play for Canada, the door is wide open and we’d love to have him.
“But I don’t want to use this opportunity here to talk about Steve. I’d rather talk about Jermaine Anderson, who made the plays, who helped this team get to the World Championship.
“Let’s not forget about who we have.”
Evolution of a point guard
Anderson is 27 and hails from Toronto.
He played college basketball at Fordham University in New York before embarking on a professional career that has seen him compete in Germany, Poland and this season with Cedevita in Zagreb, Croatia.
While Nash plays in the NBA, Anderson toils in the EuroChallenge and the Adriatic League.
Nash seems to have closed the door on his Canada career, but for Anderson it’s the exact opposite.
“Every summer I come out is like a blessing to me,” he said to FIBA.Com, “to have this opportunity and to learn the position as I go.
“I was not a natural point guard.
“Each summer I had to get better, adjust to the international game – the fact that I’m here, I’m very thankful.”
Rautins has marveled at Anderson’s ability to grow into the playmaker position.
“Jermaine’s been great,” Rautins said to FIBA.com.
“He was a shooting guard that became a one for us.
“Every year, he’s like a sponge.”
Anderson’s been a great example for the young players.
“He’ll do whatever it takes,” Rautins said.
“He wants to get better.
“I have nothing to say but great things about him.
“Every summer he is better, smarter.
“He’s a great shooter. I’ll never say no to a shot he takes because he takes good shots and makes them.
“He tries to do all the things a point guard does but I don’t want him to forget who he is, and he can be a great shooter.”
The wins that matter
There was unbridled joy for all of the teams that won Quarter-Finals last summer in San Juan.
It meant the pressure was off.
The number one goal had been to reach Turkey and for those sides that reached the semis, it was mission accomplished.
During last summer’s tournament, when Canada were struggling and not looking like a team that might reach Turkey, someone told Anderson to keep his chin up, that he’d done well on numerous occasions for Canada.
“I had some great games,” Anderson said, “but until you get to an Olympics or a World Championship, you’ve done nothing in my eyes internationally.”
Anderson thought Canada could have reached the Beijing Games but they didn’t play well enough at the 2008 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Instead, Croatia, Greece and Germany took the three qualifying spots and advanced to China.
Reaching the FIBA World Championship in Turkey looked even harder when the Dominican Republic showed up in San Juan with NBA players Al Horford, Francisco Garcia and Charlie Villanueva.
Everyone assumed they would join Argentina, Brazil and Puerto Rico as the four sides to advance to Turkey.
Anderson had other ideas.
In the four-point triumph over the Dominicans in the last eight, he buried five of eight shots from long range.
He also had five assists in the game.
“He made some unbelievable plays against the Dominican Republic in the Quarter-Finals,” Rautins said.
Count your blessings
Anderson is in the prime of his career.
He says that the game has enriched his life.
“It’s opened up so many doors,” he said.
“It’s life. Besides family and God, basketball has done so much for me. I just love the game, love the opportunity to play for my country and hope to have the opportunity as long as I can.”
This summer, Anderson and Canada will go up against Spain, France, Lithuania, Lebanon and New Zealand in Group D of the FIBA World Championship.
Some will dismiss Canada’s chances, but the team has learned how to fight.
Rautins likes to go back and think about the hard times.
“At the world qualifiers, when we got eliminated,” Rautins said, “Rock (Anderson) said to me he had been watching Germany play on TV and said it took them 12 years to get there (to the Olympics) with Dirk Nowitzki.
“He said, ‘Coach, we’re not going to give up. We’re going to get there.”
He was right.
Andrew Nicholson back in the fold as Canada starts FIBA AmeriCup 2021 Qualifiers
2020 is shaping up to be another great year for Canadian basketball fans. The Tokyo summer games are less than five months away and Canada has the slim possibility of potentially sending both senior teams to the Olympics for the first time since 2000.
The ladies did their part, booking a spot in Tokyo with a clean 3-0 FIBA Olympic Qualifying tournament sweep in Belgium earlier this month. The men will look to do same in about four months time, via a once in a lifetime qualification tournament in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia.
But before we get ahead to the summer festivities, the first order of business of the new decade for the senior men’s team is the 2021 FIBA AmericaCup qualifiers.
FIBA AmericaCup formely known as the FIBA Americas Championship or the Tournament of Americas is hosted every two years and pits 16 national teams from the Americas zone. Previously, the tournament had qualification implications to the World Cup and the Olympics, but that is no longer the case — although, every game played still counts towards the FIBA World Rankings.
Canada will kick-off the first of three-qualification windows with a home-and-home series against the Dominican Republic. The FIBA AmeriCup Qualifiers includes 16 teams broken down into four groups. Canada is in Group C and will also play Cuba and the Virgin Islands. The top three teams from each Group will qualify for the FIBA AmeriCup 2021.
Andrew Nicholson a former first-round pick, 19th overall of the Orlando Magic headlines the 12-men roster tasked to take on the always formidable and tough Dominican team. Currently, under contract with China’s Guangzhou Loong Lions and back home due to the unexpected break in action in the Chinese Basketball League (CBL) from the deadly COVID-19 Coronavirus — Nicholson, is a timely and welcome addition.
The 6-foot-10 forward last played for Canada at the 2017 FIBA AmeriCup — Nicholson’s 12 point, 18 rebound double-double helped the Canadian’s beat hosts Argentina 92-86.
The roster features four returning players from the 2019 FIBA World Cup as former Carleton Ravens guards’ Philip Scrubb, Kaza-Kajami Keane, join two other U Sports basketball All-Canadian’s in forwards Owen Klassen (Acadia Axemen) and Conor Morgan (UBC Thunderbirds)
Scrubb, a key figure in Canada’s backcourt since the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 championships will earn his 54th and 55th international caps — 44 games played at the senior level and 11 at youth competitions.
The rest of the roster is made up of some new faces as Trae Bell-Haynes and Kassius Robertson make their Canadian team debuts. Most of the players are signed to European clubs with only Duane Notice (Raptors 905), Andrew Nicholson and Tyrell Bellot-Green not playing in Europe.
|Name||Position||Height||Hometown||Previous / Current Club|
|Trae Bell-Haynes||Guard||6’1”||Toronto, ON||Helsinki Seagulls (Finland)|
|Aaron Best||Guard||6’4”||Scarborough, ON||Paok Thessaloniki (Greece)|
|Kaza Kajami-Keane||Guard||6’2”||Ajax, ON||Syntainics MBC Weissenfels (Germany)|
|Owen Klassen||Centre||6’10”||Kingston, ON||Telenet Antwerp Giants (Belgium)|
|Kyle Landry||Centre||6’10”||Calgary, AB||KK Buducnost VOLI Podgorica (Montenegro)|
|MiKyle McIntosh||Forward||6’7”||Pickering, ON||Filou Oostende (Belgium)|
|Conor Morgan||Forward||6’9”||Victoria, B.C.||Divina Seguros Joventut Badalona (Spain)|
|Andrew Nicholson||Forward||6’9”||Mississauga, ON||Guangzhou Loong Lions (China)|
|Duane Notice||Guard||6’2”||Woodbridge, ON||Raptors 905 (G League)|
|Tyrell Bellot-Green||Forward||6’7”||Toronto, ON||London Lightning (Canada)|
|Kassius Robertson||Guard||6’3”||Toronto, ON||Lavoropiu Fortitudo Bologna (Italy)|
|Phil Scrubb||Guard||6’4″||Richmond, BC||Movistar Estudiantes Madrid (Spain)|
Canada FIBA AmeriCup 2021 Qualifiers
|February 21, 2020||Canada vs. Dominican Republic||7:00 PM||Tribute Communities Centre –Oshawa, ON|
|February 24, 2020||Canada @ Dominican Republic||7:00 PM||Palacio de los Deportes Virgilio Travieso Soto –Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic|
|November 26, 2020||Canada @ Cuba||TBD|
|November 29, 2020||Canada @ U.S. Virgin Islands||TBD|
|February 19, 2020||Canada vs. Cuba||TBD|
|February 22, 2020||Canada vs. U.S. Virgin Islands||TBD|
Canada knocks off Sweden qualifies for 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Canada’s women’s national basketball team is headed for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Team Canada picked-up it’s second victory of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, defeating Team Sweden 80-50 to earn their third straight trip to the summer games.
Natalie Achonwa nearly perfect 16 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists performance anchored a dominate Canadian offensive attack that featured four players in double-figures. The Indiana Fever power forward knocked-down 8-of-9 field goals in just 17 minutes.
Shaina Pellington was outstanding with 11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists. Kia Nurse, Canada’s other WNBA player finished with 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals and Miranda Ayim added with 10 points and 3 rebounds.
All players contributed to win — logging at least five minutes and recording a stat on the scoresheet. 18 year old Laeticia Amihere made her official senior team debut — scoring 8 quick points in games’ final 8 minutes.
The victory will send Canada to their six (7) Olympic games. Team Canada also qualified in 1976, 1984 1996, 2000, 2012, 2016 — earning a country best fourth-place finish at the 1984 Olympiad in Los Angeles, California.
Canada becomes the sixth (6) team to qualify for the games — eight (8) gold medalist, United States, China, France, Nigeria and tournament hosts Japan have also earned there spot. Six more teams will make-up the 12-team showcase. The 2020 games will run from July 24 – August 09.