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.
Hot shooting Australia Boomers take down Canada
Canada wrapped a two-game exhibition series against 2019 FIBA World Cup group H foe and commonwealth neighbor with a 81-73 loss to the hot shooting Australia Boomers.
Canada started off slow as Australia made their defensive adjustments, limiting the Canadians pick and roll opportunities by going under screens and trailed 13-6 early on but rallied with a 12-5 run to close the first-quarter with a 18-17 lead on a step-back jumper from Oshae Brissett.
The Canadian’s opened up the second-quarter with back-to-back triples from Aaron Best and Kaza Kajami-Keane for 26-19 lead with 7:27 to play. Australia responded with a 9-0 run to re-take the lead before Andrew Nembhard put a halt to the run with a easy lay-up and a Khem Birch inside basket put Canada up 33-30 at half-time after a low-scoring 20 minutes.
The action the picked in the third-quarter as both teams shot the ball extremely well, combining for a total of 56 points. Melvin Ejim scored Canada’s first five points and Khem Birch dominated the paint to give Team Canada a 48-38 advantage with 5:42 to play. Australia quickly found their stroke knocking down three-straight triples on their way to six in the quarter take a slim 60-59 lead after the third-quarter.
Canada’s offense dried-up in the fourth-quarter with just two points scored at the mid-way point as they settled for long jumpers and three-pointers and quickly found themselves down 70-61 with 4:43 to play in the game.
Khem Birch sparked a late Canadian run, scoring 6 straight points to cut the lead down to 3 points at 70-67 with 3:30 to play and finished with a game-high 18 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals. Oshae Brissett added 14 points and 5 rebounds. Kaza Kajami-Keane rounded out Canada’s double-figure scores with 11 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists and Melvin Ejim contributed with 9 points and 7 rebounds.
The Boomers knocked down 12-31 (38%) from downtown, after shooting just 3-for-13 in the first-half. The Canadians were a miserable 7-of-25 (28%) from the outside and struggled with turnovers with 16. The Aussies grabbed 12 offensive boards and won the battle of the glass with a 43-40 edge.
“I thought it was very positive for us these two games, I thought we played extremely well, we competed, we played as a team, last night we obviously shot the ball a little bit better from three-point land but overall I thought it was a very positive two days for us.” – shared Canada’s associate head coach Gordie Herbert after the game.
“We showed a lot of character these last two games, we had some guys not playing, but it was the same on their side. We played really tough, this is a great Australian team, they got a lot of great players and they are going to do very well. But I thought we showed promised and have the ability to compete no matter who we put on the floor.” – added Melvin Ejim.
Australia was led by Jock Landale with 13 points and 9 rebounds. Jonah Bolden added 12 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists and Chris Goulding with 10 points and 3 rebounds on 3-of -7 triples.
Canadian head coach Nick Nurse opted for a starting line-up that featured Andrew Nembhard, Philip Scrubb, Oshae Brissett, Kyle Wiltjer and Khem Birch while resting Kevin Pangos. The Boomers played without Patty Mills and Andrew Bogut.
Team Canada (2-2) will continue its FIBA World Cup preparations with a two-game series against New Zealand in Sydney, Australia on Tuesday August 20 and Wednesday August 21st.
Canada lays the boom defeats Australia 90-70
Canada opened-up a five-game pre-FIBA World cup exhibition schedule on foreign soil with an impressive 20-point, 90-70 win over Australia Boomers.
Playing with just one NBA player after inviting 17 to training camp, Canada dissected Australia’s poor pick and roll defense by controlling the tempo with outstanding guard play and timely three-point shooting.
Kevin Pangos 18 points, 6 assists , 4 steals, on 7-of-10 shooting, 4-of-6 triples paced five Canadian basketball players in double-figures.
“He just wants us to play aggressive and play with confidence and keep getting better, it’s a process, we don’t want to peak right now, we want to peak at the Worlds.” discussed Pangos post-game about head Coach Nick Nurse’s mentality coming into the physical affair against a team that is part of Canada’s group H at the World Cup.
19-year-old point-guard Andrew Nembhard finished with a double-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists playing a team-high 26 minutes.
“I’m just excited to be here, I feel like I’m supposed to be here and feel really comfortable on the court.” – opened-up Nembhard after the game.
Kaza Kajami-Keane came off the bench and hit a crucial three-pointer to end the third-quarter to restore orders for Canada and finished with 12 points. on 2-of-3 three-pointers. Kyle Wiltjer was crucial with 11 points and 6 rebounds including 3-of-6 from downtown.
Owen Klassen filling in for injured Olynyk was solid with 10 points and 4 rebounds. Philip Scrubb also chipped in with 10 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists.
Canada knocked down 13-of-32 (40%) triples and shot 36-of-79 (45%) from the the game.
Australia a team, loaded with NBA talent including Patty Mills, Joe Ingles (11 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists), Andrew Bogut (10 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists), Matthew Dellavedova (0 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds) were held to just 6-of-34 shooting from three-pointers and struggled with 15 turnovers — largely due to Team Canada’s active hands on defense.
Mills finished with a game-high 20 points knocking down 4 of Australia’s 6 three-pointers on just 4-of-13 outside the arc.
Nick Nurse opted for a starting line-up that featured Philip Scrubb, Kevin Pangos, Oshae Brissett (3 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists), Kyle Wiltjer and Khem Birch (6 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists). Both Brady Heslip and Melvin Ejim sat out this one out and will likely suit-up for the next game.
Canada improves to 2-1 in their 7-game pre-Fiba schedule and will take on the Aussies once again tomorrow as both teams get ready for the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.
Subscribe to our Newsletter!
Canadian Basketball Insider Newsletter
U Sports1 week ago
All-Canadian Eddie Ekiyor leaves Carleton Ravens for pro ranks
U Sports18 hours ago
Former Carleton All-Canadian Eddie Ekiyor charged sexual assault, kidnapping
NBA4 weeks ago
Grizzlies Throwback Takes Them Back To Vancouver
FIBA1 day ago
Canada lays the boom defeats Australia 90-70
FIBA2 weeks ago
Canada trims 2019 FIBA World Cup roster to 19 players
NBA3 weeks ago
Kawhi Leonard thanks Toronto Raptors
NBA4 weeks ago
The 8th Wonder Of The Celtics
FIBA1 week ago
Canada opens up 2019 Pre-FIBA World Cup schedule with 96-87 win over Nigeria