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Remembering France’s Tony Parker

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Tony Parker France 2016 Rio Olympics

I have finished grieving over the fact that Tony Parker’s international career finished when Spain throttled France 92-67 in the quarterfinals of the Rio Olympic Games.

Tony Parker and his generation as we call them in France, (Boris Diaw, Mickael Gelabale, and Florient Pietrus) arrived on the international scene during the 2005 European Cup Championship.

The tournament began in a nightmarish fashion from which it seemed impossible for France to wake-up from. And, out of this nightmare rose a man who would go down as the greatest basketball player in France’s history. Tony Parker, the son of French basketball gods was born from the team’s nightmarish ashes.

He led us to a third place finish. But, that was just the beginning. For the next 12 years, number nine gave hope to a nation. Every time the French national team stepped on the court, people raved about number nine, people “prayed” that number nine would somehow, someway find a way to overcome whatever obstacles loomed ahead.

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During the 2009 European Championship, the rivalry with Spain really took off. However, Spain owned that rivalry, until France, finally, broke through during the 2013 European Championship.

Tony Parker France 2016 Rio Olympics

Tony Parker France 2016 Rio Olympics

In 2013, France won the gold medal, but the game that changed it all was the semifinal. In an all time great overtime thriller, France eliminated Spain who was playing at home. In the biggest game of his international career, Parker came through for France.

Two years later, in another epic showdown with Pau Gasol in yet another European Championship semifinal it was Spain who had the last laugh… this time in France. The rivalry was increasing in intensity as the two powerhouses were playing each other in just about every tournament, oftentimes with a medal hanging in the balance.

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But, despite the 2013 European crown, Parker’s international career has a major gaping hole, which may plague how some view him in retrospect. Tony Parker has never won, or came close to winning, a global tournament.

France failed to qualify for the Beijing Olympic in 2008, and finished sixth in London in 2012, and Parker missed the FIBA World Championship Games in 2006, 2010, and 2014 due to injuries.

But, his legacy in France is that of the player who kick started basketball in the country. He made it cool for children, and teenagers to hang up the cleats for the orange ball, and wooden courts.

Tony Parker may not have been the one to lead France to a FIBA World Championship title nor an Olympic gold medal, but without Tony Parker there may not even be interest in the sport of basketball in the hexagon.

Parker rendered the sport popular in a country that could have cared less about it just 15 years ago. And, through his glory, and agony, Parker changed the game for future generations.

Basketball in France was invented in 2001.

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FIBA

Dominicana barks back defeats Canada in AmeriCup 2021 OT qualifying thriller

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dominican republic barks back defeats canada in ot thriller
Dominican Eloy Vargas screams after three-point play - Photo: FIBA

Canada’s Senior Men’s National Team (SMNT) shock-off a slow start, forced overtime before losing a controversial, yet thrilling 88-84 overtime road game to the Dominican Republic at the FIBA AmeriCup 2021 Qualifiers in Santo Domingo.

Multiple ties and a total of twelve lead changes turned up the energy as both teams exchanged jabs in an exciting fourth-quarter. Trailing 75-73 with five seconds remaining in regulation — after the Dominican Republic failed to ice the game at the free-throw line, Canada appeared to have won the contest with a walk-off game-winning three-point shot by Conor Morgan that sent the entire team running off into the tunnel for a jubilant locker-room celebration.

The euphoria quickly ended and the celebration halted as the referees reviewed the shot and confirmed it as a two pointer — overturning a correct call that sent the game into overtime after a 75-75, 40-minute deadlock.

The referee, standing within three-feet of Morgan, and with clear 2020 vision lifted her hand to signal a three-point shot, but for some odd reason changed her call. Further video evidence shot by a fan sitting courtside clearly showed, and confirmed that the Canadian player was indeed behind the three-point line, albeit being extremely close.

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Canada failed to match the Dominican Republic’s intensity early on and trailed 18-9 with 2:01 to play in a physical, foul-plagued, slow-moving first-quarter that finished with the home team ahead 22-16 after 10 minutes. Overall the Canadian’s shot just 3-for-12, turned the ball over six times but stayed within striking distance thanks to 9-of-12 free-throws.

The whistles kept on coming, the fouls started to pile-up and the pace turned to a snails’ race as both teams struggled to get anything going in the second-quarter. Canada’s Aaron Best acrobatic layup and thunderous inbounds alley-oop energized Team Canada. A late Dominican Republic triple maintained their six-point cushion with a 39-33 half-time lead in a evenly played 17-17 quarter.

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The late arriving home crowd continued to fill the Palacio de los Desportes arena just in time to see the local team extend the lead to a game-high 10-points with the scoreboard showing 50-40 with 3:09 to play in the third-quarter.

Philip Scrubb (Richmond, BC) quickly shifted the momentum in Canada’s favour with a personal 9-0 run on back-to-back triples and an old-fashioned hoop plus the harm three-point play forcing a Dominican timeout. Canada extended the run to 12-0, contributed by poor-fouling shooting by the Dominican Republic to take 52-50 lead.

With the game hanging in the balance in the extra session Luis Montero drilled a clutch spot-up baseline three-pointer to give the Dominican Republic a 86-82 edge as they hung on for the thrilling overtime win.

kaza kajami keane canada falls to dominican republic fiba 2021 americup qualifiers
Canada’s Kaza Kajami-Keane blows Dominican Republic at FIBA 2021 AmeriCup Qualifiers – Photo: FIBA

Scrubb finished with a game-high 26 points on 6-of-13 field goals, 4-of-9 triples and 10-of-13 free-throws. The CD Estudiantes guard of the Spanish Liga ACD added 6 assists, adding 2 rebounds in a nearly 40 minutes of game action. Kaza Kajami-Keane (Ajax, Ont.) hit some big shots and finished with 15 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds and Aaron Best (Toronto, Ont.) was great with 15 points, 3 rebounds on 6-of-11 field-goals and 3-of-7 triples before fouling out.

Andrew Nicholson failed to find any consistency and fouled out in the three-quarter with 7 points and 6 rebounds. In total four Canadian players were disqualified as Canada was called for a total 32 team-fouls.

Eloy Vargas once again was the top player for the Dominican Republic with 16 points and 5 rebounds. The veteran 6’11 forward and former Kentucky Wildcat had and outstanding showing in the opening window of the 2021 FIBA Americas qualifiers. Rigoberto Mendoza added 12 points, 4 rebounds and Gelvis Salon stuffed the stat-sheet with 10 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds.

The Dominican connected on 31-of-72 (43.1%) field goals, including 9-of-27 (33%) from downtown and a sub-par 17-of-31 (54.8%) from the foul-line. Team Canada finished 25-of-65 (38.5%) from the floor, 11-of-32 (34.4%) from three-point land and slightly improved free-throw shooting 23/33 (69.7%).

Canada (1-1) will resume the FIBA 2021 AmeriCup qualifiers on November 26, 2020 with a game against Cuba (1-1).

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FIBA

Canada romps Dominican Republic in opener of FIBA AmeriCup 2021 qualifiers

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philip scrubb canada romps dominican republic in fiba 2021 americup qualifiers

Canada kicked-off the 2021 FIBA AmeriCup qualifiers with a lopsided 89-72 home win over the visiting Dominican Republic at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre (CRWC) in Oshawa, Ontario.

Trailing 40-35 at half-time Team Canada outscored the opposition 54-32 in the second-half to pull away for the double-digit 17-point win. Canada outscored the Dominican 30-18 in the third-quarter and further limited the Caribbean nation to only 14 points in the final 10 minutes.

Andrew Nicholson (Mississauga, Ont.) playing in his first game for Canada since 2017, paced four players in double-figures with 16 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. A key figure on offense for Canada, the 6’10’ former NBA bigmen connected on 7-17 shots and threw-down several dunks — including a big time one-hander that got the standing room crowd to it’s feet.

Philip Scrubb (Richmond, BC) continued to prove his worth with 14 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists on 3-of-7 three-pointers. Kaza Kajami-Keane (Ajax, Ont.) sliced and diced his way to 12 points, a game-high 8 assists and 3 rebounds. Former Ryerson Rams’ guard Aaron Best (Scarborough, Ont.) rounded out the top scorers in the starting line-up with 9 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists.

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Trae Bell-Haynes (Toronto, Ont.) played well in his national team debut with 9 points, 4 assists and MiKyle McIntosh (Toronto, Ont.) 9 points, 5 assists helped Canada’s bench outscore the Dominican Republic 32-12. All 12 Canadian players got in the game and 11 scored at 3 points.

team canada high fives 2020 fiba americup qualifiers against dominican republic
Team Canada high fives during 2020 FIBA AmeriCup qualifiers against Dominican Republic: Photo – FIBA

Canada, ranked 21st in the FIBA world rankings knocked down 32-of-61 (52.5%) field goals and hit on 13-of-34 triples. The foul-shooting on the other hand was pretty poor, with Team Canada findin the bottom of the net on just 12-of-21 (57.1%) attempts.

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Canada’s defensive pressure forced the Dominican’s into 20 turnovers — leading to 29 points off of those mistakes for the Canadian’s.

FIBA AmeriCup 2011 Qualifiers – Canada vs Dominican Republic Highlights

No. 19 Dominican Republic, returned eight players from the 2019 World Cup. Victor Liz the team’s leading scorer in China had a game-high 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Eloy Vargas was next in line with 16 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists and Angel Delgado finished with a near double-double with 12 points and 8 rebounds.

canada dominican republic 2020 fiba americup at campus recreation wellness centre
2020 FIBA AmeriCup Qualfiers at Campus Recreation Wellness Centre in Oshawa, Ontario – Photo: FIBA

Unforeseen last minute technicalities forced the game to be moved from the Tribute Communities Centre to Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre — the beautiful new home of the Durham College Lords and University of Ontario Tech Ridgebacks.

The two teams will play again on Monday in the Dominican Republic. A road victory in hostile territory would put Team Canada in good shape to win Group C with upcoming games against No. 50 ranked Virgin Islands and No. 64 Cuba in the two remaining qualification windows.

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