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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.

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

Triano steps aside as Canadian national team coach

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Jay Triano Olympic Dot Ca

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. 

Jay Triano 2 Olympic Dot CA
Jay Triano is among the most accomplished coaches in Canadian history. Photo: Canadian Olympic Committee

“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.

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Roy Rana Canada's National Basketball Team Coach Sitting FIBA Qualifiers Pointing
Roy Rana 2019 FIBA Americas Qualifiers – Photo: FIBA

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.

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FIBA

Canada draws Group of Death 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup

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Cory Joseph Canada Basketball Draws Group Of Death 2019 Fiba 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.

2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup Groups

2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup Groups

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.

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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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