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Team USA Ready For Rio

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Team USA Ready For Rio

One day to go!

No King for the throne. No Chef for the kitchen. James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul not joining the carnival. Russell Westbrook definitly staying put in his Oklahoma home. Damian Lillard, Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis and John Wall not wanting to risk adding a Zika virus to their respective medical list of injuries. Even Spaniard Spurs star Pau Gasol is freezing his sperm due to the risk of infection.

There will be a lot of torch bearers not carrying the flag for their country in tomorrows ceremony to open the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, but this is more out of a sense of protection than a lack of patrioism. And don’t worry Team USA is still loaded with some Dream Team talent. And we’re not just talking about the WNBA pedigree of legends and new superstars from Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Tamika Catchings to Elena Della Donne, Maya Moore and Brittany Griner leading the female front. Here’s a deeper look at the 12 man roster that has started by blowing out five tune up games getting ready for the same number of rings.

Guards…

Toronto’s very own DeMar Derozan and Kyle Lowry will take their Rap Pack from the North to South America as the Canadian court couple now represent these Unites States for the Summer. But taking the Kings throne it will be Cavalier Prince Kyrie Irving-originally of Australia-who will be leading the charge from Basketball’s Q.B. position at P.G. Serving the dance floor as he breaks it down to the human torch likes of Klay Thompson set to splash on the other side of the Pacific.

Forwards…

Joining his brother Draymond Green in a loaded frontcourt with new family member Kevin Durant who made the biggest decision of his life this Summer as he became a free man. And distant relative Harrison Barnes who now with Dallas wants to prove to the Golden State Warriors and the league that he is even more of a Maverick than they thought. Now hows that for a big three without Steph Curry? Well if that isn’t enough for you than there is always most improved superstar and Chicago Bulls charge leader Jimmy Butler at your service. Not to mention injury redeemed Paul George more than keeping pace like the Indiana piece of basketball jones does with first name Hancocks. And then of course there’s the most experienced player in this future of the league team, the alpha, scoring superstar Carmelo Anthony who has been more of a consecutive, consistent Olympian than anyone in his generation and will serve as the unoffical leader and elder statesman of this basketball dozen.

Must Read:  USA Continues dominance over Canada at 2013 FIBA U19 World Championships with convincing 109-67 Quarter-Finals victory

Centres…

Now in the middle of it all, although Dray will also have his Green day upfront when this Suicide Squad runs a death line-up on the rest of the world it’s all about the two De’s, Marcus and Andre. Who needs Draymond in the middle when DeMarcus Cousins can trash talk himself all the way to the podium, still running his motor as they raise the flag. Whereas in the absence of the flying Griffin, Lob City runway, running mate DeAndre Jordan will catch air and put down everything thrown his way…hopefully free throws too.

That’s a lot for Dukie Mike Krzyzewski to dry-erase before Coach K hands the clipboard to Pop for the 2020 games in Tokyo, Japan. But with Christ the Redeemer watching this former redeem team redefine what it means to dream you know this squad will have a devil of a time in Rio de Janeiro…as long as they pay attention to the details. This is a place built on skill and passion and if you don’t build on yours than you won’t make it to the summit of the podium where gold gleams like that eternal flame.

One day to Rio…

Let’s go!

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FIBA

Canada draws tough group for 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifier

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canada draws tough group for 2020 fiba olympic qualifier
Khem Birch and Team Canada to face stiff competition at FIBAOQT - Photo: FIBA

Canada’s Senior Men’s National Basketball (SMNT) faces a tough road to the 2020 Olympic tournament after drawing stiff competition at the official qualifying draw in Switzerland.

No. 21 Canada will play in tough group A in Victoria, British Columbia against No. 7 ranked Greece and reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Team Canada will also face rising No. 24 China. Group B features No. 43 Uruguay, No. 10 Czech Republic, No. 15 Turkey.

Canada will need to win the last minute Olympic qualifying tournament at home to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic games.

The top two teams in each group advance to the semi-finals in a crossover game. The tournament runs from July 23-28. The top four teams from each tournament will advance to Tokyo and will join an already impressive field that includes hosts Japan, Argentina, Australia, France, Spain, Iran, Nigeria and the United States.

2020 fiba olympic qualifying tournaments
2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament

The Czech Republic finished in sixth-place at the recently completed 32-team World Cup in China with a record of 4-4 — with losses coming to the USA 88-67, Greece (84-77), Australia (82-70) and Serbia (90-81). Greece missed out on a top 10 finish after a disappointing 3-2 showing. Turkey showed flashes of brilliance finishing a spot below Canada at 22 with a 2-3 record — losing a close 93-92 group game against the USA.

China also finished with a 2-3 record dropping close games to Poland (79-76), Venezuela (72-59) and Nigeria 86-73. Uruguay, the lowest ranked team of the six is the only team that didn’t qualify for the World Cup.

greece giannis antetokounmpo 2019 fiba world cup basketball
Hellas’ Giannis Antetokounmpo is coming to Canada for the 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament – Photo: FIBA

The six teams coming to Victoria this summer all feature proven NBA star-power, headlined by the Hellas’ Giannis Antekonmpo. The Czech Republic has crafty Chicago Bulls point guard Tomas Satoranksy and Turkey also boasts power forward Ersan Ilyasova of the Milwaukee Bucks, point guard Ceidi Osman of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Furkan Korkmaz of the Philadelphia 76ers.

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Despite the growing global NBA player presence – it is Canada that features the most international players in the world’s best league. After a disappointing 2-3 showing at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Team Canada is expected to put together it’s best roster in years’ — already garnering early official social media commitments from two of Canada’s rising stars. Denver Nuggets’ Jamal Murray and OKC Thunder Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have officially announced their intentions. Dillon Brooks of the Memphis Grizzlies, Khem Birch of the Orlando Magic and New Orleans Pelicans’ guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker have also made it clearly evident that they will be on hand to help Canada end it’s 20-year summer Olympics drought that dates back to 2000.

Must Read:  Hot shooting Australia Boomers take down Canada

Canada will kick-off the tournament against Greece on June 23rd and will play China the next day with a rest day in-between — before the semi-finals on June 27.

2020 fiba olympic qualifying tournament competition format
2020 FIBA Victoria Olympic qualifying tournament competition format

One thing to keep in consideration is the proximity of the qualifying tournament to the NBA Finals. Game 1 on the 2020 NBA Finals is set for Thursday June 4th 2020 and if stretched the distance it will run until Sunday June 21st leaving only two days before the start of the crucial tournament. Both the Milwaukee Bucks and the Toronto Raptors are amongst the favorites to win the Eastern Conference and should they reach the NBA finals it will be interesting to see how it will affect player turnout and other last minute decisions.

Canada’s coaching staff is led by Raptors’ head coach Nick Nurse, Greece recently appointed former Kentucky Wildcats head coach Rick Pitino.

Canada failed to reach the 2016 Rio Olympics via the FIBA qualification tournament, falling to eventual fourth-place finisher France in a hard-fought 83-74 battle in Manila, Philippines.

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FIBA

Lance Stephenson Makin’ ‘Em Dance In China

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lance stephenson makes em dance in china
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Remade in China.

From playing with LeBron and the Lakers last season. To getting an early start in the Far East for this one. Getting in opponents faces like he used to do when he went up against the King. Blow in his face all you want…but its just hot air.

Lance Stephenson is back baby!

Like you’ve never seen him before. Running his town in China for the Liaoning Flying Leopards.

To quote Charlie Murphy talking about Prince in an infamous Hollywood stories episode of Dave’s ‘Chappelle Show’, “this cat can (still) ball man”!

GOOD!

To those who think a couple of strings have popped off Stephenson’s guitar then just watch him play and strum along. Lance is still makin’ ’em dance with the NBA’s most famous celebration…except the league just lost it and one of their premier performers and fondly favourite, cult celebrities in the amazing association of epic entertainment.

Turns out the Lakers should have held on to their veteran big name meme team a little longer. Although they did re-up with pure point Rondo running the show and the centre who should start in JaVale McGee. But in not keeping one of their biggest bench presence spark plugs of camaraderie and chemistry since the days of Rony Turiaf or even Mad Dog, Mark Madsen, this is almost as heart-breaking as losing all the kids in the Hollywood divorce for Anthony Davis. But we love reunions almost as much as we love redemption in this league and with BIG3 MVP Joe Johnson inking a deal with Detroit that is going to see the Motor City Pistons assembly line cut former Laker Michael Beasley. We may just see this fellow wild card, big contributing star head back to the Chinese league he finished out the season with like he hasn’t just flown home already. We know one Leopard who would welcome him with back open paws and any other player with a name beyond a meme, not caring if he never changes his spots.

Just when you thought Ice Cube’s inspired BIG3 was the only prescribed route for former NBA players to EA get back in the game like museum exits via the gift shop then check out this exhibit. You only have to check a FIBA feed and see how France French kissed the United States out said tournament a year before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Japan to see that this game is truly global. It’s far more than just the United States. It’s the whole wide, watching and welcoming world. And one of the biggest hubs like everything in this world from business, to commerce and innovation is in China. Now that’s some development even the G-League can’t give you old man.

Must Read:  Gutsy effort propels Canada over undefeated Dominican Republic at FIBA Americas

Coney Island’s own legend Stephon Marbury became an icon here, remaining after he retired…and this guy was a superstar under the Times Square, World’s Most Famous Arena lights of being a New York Knick in the Madison Square Garden of hallowed hoops Eden.

Are you listening Carmelo?

You too Dwight…give it a couple of months.

With 35 and 10, double decadence in the playoffs, Lance just put an end to San Miguel like last orders at the bar and now next rounds on him as he mime guitars until the fat lady falsettos in her stilettos to everyone raising a glass in toast.

Cheers!

The all dunking and big shot scoring player looks like he’s stepped into a rejuvenation machine…until you see just how much he afforded with his spare chance minutes last year on the biggest stage in Hollywood. He looks like he’s having a Swayze. And Chinese Basketball in turn the time of its life.

All Stephenson needed was another chance. And boy is he taking it right now. At this point Lance will be back in the league before you can say “it’s opening night at the STAPLES Center.” But at this point would he even want back, causing big trouble in a not so little China?

(As a matter of fact after press Lance Stephenson lead his Leopards over Seoul to win both the Terrific 12 and the tournament MVP…like Jay what more can we say?)

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