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.
Raptors’ Nick Nurse to coach Canada at 2019 FIBA World Cup
Fresh off leading the Toronto Raptors’ to their first-ever NBA championship – Nick Nurse has been officially named head coach of Canada’s Senior Men’s National (SMNT).
Rocking a fresh suit alongside a red tie and a Canadian pin flag, Nurse expressed gratitude and humbleness “truly honored to be sitting here in this position, I’m really am. Obviously, the last couple of months have been very humbling and really amazing to see the country, the city and everybody get excited about basketball in this country.” opened up Canada’s newest head coach during the press conference.
Nurse’s contract obligations with Team Canada are expected to last through the 2020 summer Olympic games in Tokyo. No salary details were released.
Team Canada is expected to release its full training camp roster before the end of June
“I’m looking forward to working with this talented group of young players, and to seeing what we can do on the competitive global basketball stage. I love the international game. I also see this as a real chance for me to learn from the world’s best, and for us to represent Canada with pride and distinction.”– expressed Nick Nurse.
Canada Basketball has been searching for a replacement since veteran head coach Jay Triano decided to step aside from the job on March 25, 2019 – as he was asked to re-apply for the position by general manager Rowan Barrett.
“Nick fits our Gold Medal Profile as he is a proven leader with extensive experience coaching FIBA, NBA and other professional leagues around the world. His coaching pedigree shows his ability to win at some of the highest levels and he has a tremendous understanding of the FIBA game and our Canadian NBA players. We strongly believe that this unique combination gives our players the best opportunity for success at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.” added Rowan Barrett.
After a long a interview process that further extended due to the Toronto Raptors’ winning their first-ever NBA Championship — Peter Yannopoulos and confirmed on by various sources — that Nick Nurse who will be responsible for leading what is expected to be a star-studded Team Canada and the upcoming 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Joining Nurse on the sideline will be Gordie Herbert as an associate head coach. Herbert recently left his Head Coach position with German BBL club Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt. Herbert helped guide Canada to two World Cup qualification wins and is a former Toronto Raptors assistant coach (2008-2009).
Herbert is also expected to take over the coaching duties at the 2021 FIBA AmeriCup Qualifiers formerly known as FIBA Americas Championship. The tournament pits together the top teams from the Western Hemisphere and currently scheduled for November.
The rest of the coaching staff will be announced in the coming days. Canada has loaded exhibition schedule and is expected to face tough opposition in the group of death at the 2019 FIBA World cup in China.
Canada earns silver at 2019 FIBA U16 Americas Championships
Canada’s U16 Men’s national team captured a third straight silver medal at the 2019 FIBA Americas championships falling 94-77 to the United States of America in the Gold medal game in Belem, Brazil.
The highly anticipated bout featuring the two top U16 FIBA-ranked teams in the world didn’t disappoint — showcasing upwards of a combined 10 potential NBA draftees.
Team Canada kept the game tight for the first 10 minutes and took their only lead of the game at 17-15 with 2:02 in to play, before a late triple gave the USA a 18-17 lead to close the quarter.
The USA took the game to the Canadians in the second-quarter, outscoring Canada 27-15 for a 45-32 half-time lead.
Caleb Houstan (Mississauga, Ont.) scored 25 points and three rebounds and finished as the championship’s second leading scorer with 22.8 points per game. Houstan, a silky smooth forward had a tournament high 29 points to become Canada’s top scorer in U16 FIBA Americas competition — breaking Kevin Pangos 28 point record from 2009.
Canada showed some bark in the third-quarter with solid defensive stretches and back-to-back dunks, cutting the lead to single digits on multiple occasions and closing in at 57-51 of the Americans with 4:34 to play.
The Americans rallied with a 13-6 run to end third-quarter for a comfortable 72-57 lead and put it in cruise control in the fourth-quarter — stretching the lead to a game-high 21 points.
Despite the loss, the final 17-point deficit ties the lowest spread between the two squads in five championship or semi-finals games at the FIBA Americas tournament.
Team Canada has now lost all five games against the USA at the FIBA U16 Americas championships — dropping three-straight gold medal games — 111-60 in 2017 and 77-60 in 2015 and two semi-finals encounters, 113-70 in 2011 and 126-78 in 2009.
Ryan Nembhard (Aurora, Ont) wrapped the tournament with another outstanding effort with 21 points, 9 assists and 2 rebounds. Nembhard led the tournament with a total of 54 assists, good for 9 per game, and was Canada’s second leading scorer at 14.3 points per game.
Enoch Boakye (Brampton, Ont) 12 points and 13 rebounds concluded the tournament with his third straight game in double-figures rebounding and was the third top rebounder in the competition at 10.8 per game. Boakye had of two of the tournaments top 10 rebounding performances with 17 against Mexico and 16 against Dominican Republic.
Both Houstan and Ryan Nembhard were named to the tournaments all-star team alongside Dominican Republic’s Jean Montero — including the USA’s Jalen Durne and tournament MVP Christopher Livingston.
Canada finished the tournament 5-1 with group B victories over Uruguay 101-63, Brazil 90-67, Puerto Rico 96-76 and wins over Mexico 95-78 and 97-81 over the Dominican Republic in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.
The U16 Canadian squad has reached the podium five times since the inaugural, bi-annual American zone tournament kicked-off 10 years ago in 2009 — earning three silver and two bronze medals. Canada lost a heart-breaking 65-64 semi-finals loss to Argentina in 2013.
Canada has qualified for the 2020 U17 FIBA World Championships where they will look to improve from their 2018 4th-place finish.