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.
Triano steps aside as Canadian national team coach
Jay Triano has officially stepped down as the head coach of Canada’s senior men’s national team.
Canada Basketball made the announcement this morning, confirming media reports that circulated on Sunday.
“I can’t thank Jay enough for all he has done for basketball in Canada,” said Glen Grunwald, president and CEO of Canada Basketball, in a statement.
“As both a coach and player, Jay is a Canadian icon and has played a major role in the development of basketball within our country and we will forever be grateful for his contributions.
“After speaking with Jay, I’m hopeful we can find a role where he can continue to contribute to Canada Basketball in the future.”
Triano is the first Canadian-born and Canadian-trained coach to work in the NBA, starting as an assistant with the Toronto Raptors in 2002 and later promoted to head coach.
He is currently the lead assistant coach with the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.
As head coach of Canada’s national team from 1998 to 2004, Triano led the team to a seventh-place finish at the 2000 Olympic Summer Games in Sydney, Australia.
Canada has not returned to the Olympics since then, but it figures to be a contender to play at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
Triano returned as head coach in 2012, guiding the club to a pair of victories during the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers.
As a player, Triano served with Canada’s national team from 1977 to 1988 and was team captain for the final seven years of his tenure.
He was elected to the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.
Ryerson University head coach Roy Rana is among three other candidates being granted interviews to replace Triano, according to Sportsnet’s Michael Grange.
The other candidates are Gord Herbert, who played for Canada at the 1984 Olympics; and Ettore Messina, an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs.
A final decision is expected by March 31.
Multiple reports say Triano cited “personal reasons” for taking his name out of the running, but he did not elaborate.
Team Canada’s next major test will be the 2019 FIBA World Cup, starting Aug. 31 in China.
Triano steps aside at a high point in Canadian basketball, with dozens of players in the NBA and at elite NCAA schools, including Barrett’s son R.J. Barrett, a Duke University standout who is projected to be a lottery pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Canada draws Group of Death 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup
Canada’s path to a 2019 FIBA basketball World Cup medal and hopes of a 2020 Olympic berth took a serious blow prior to the start of the games as No. 23 Team Canada was drawn into the group of death — alongside global powerhouses No. 6 Lithuania, No. 11 Australia, and No. 37 Senegal.
For Canada to have a shot at getting to the podium they will have to finish in the top two spots of Group H to advance to second round of the tournament — where the top 16 teams will be split into four new groups (Groups I, J, K, L). If it reaches that stage Team Canada will once again have to finish in the top two to advance to the quarter-finals.
Canada’s road to the 2020 Tokyo summer Olympics is a complex and tough process — given FIBA’s decision to make the World Cup apart of the qualification process. Seven spots are currently up for grabs at FIBA’s flagship event and with hosts Japan earning an automatic entry the room for error is minuscule.
To reach the Olympics, Canada will have to finish as one of the top two teams from the seven team America’s region that features the world’s number one squad in the United States of America alongside traditional mainstays Argentina, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Venezula and Puerto Rico.
If Canada is unable to secure a spot as one of the two top America’s region teams, they will hope to be amongst the top 16 teams at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup where they will be granted automatic qualification to a last chance tournament taking place next summer at a yet to be determined locations. If unable to finish in the top 16, Canada’s last hope would be one of the last eight countries that FIBA would invite for one of the last-chance qualifier tournaments.
Therefore, if Canada has any hopes of qualifying for the 12-team 2020 Summer Olympics via the World Cup they will need to advance from Group H one as top two teams, failure to advance in the premilinary round will automatically put Canada’s hopes at the mercy FIBA via the invitation tournament only.
Should Canada reach the second-round they will be placed in the newly formed Group L, alongside Group G winner and runner-up — potentially setting up another group of death with No. 3 France, No. 11 Germany, No. 11 Australia or No. 6 Lithuania.
To make matters worse for the Canadians, they have been pooled on the same half of the draw as the United States — which would mean a potential quarter-finals match-up between the two neighbouring nations, if Canada can somehow get there.
If the Canadians can reach the quarter-finals there is a good chance they alongside the USA would be last two standing Americas teams — thus earning automatic berth to Tokyo 2020.
As evident, by the World Cup draw and given FIBA’s recent changes it’s clearly going to be a tough road for the Canadians to fullfill their 2020 vision of becoming a global basketball powerhouse.
Canada opens up the World Cup against Australia on Saturday August 31st and will take on Lithuania on two days rest on Monday September 2nd beforing concluding Group H action against Senegal on Wednesday September 4th, 2019. All of Canada’s preliminary round games will be played in Dongguan, China
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