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The Many Problems Facing the USMNT

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Since the 2004 debacle in Athens, Greece, the United States men’s basketball team has looked better than the Monstars in Space Jam.

However, it looks as if their 12-year run of invincibility in Olympic play will come to an end, based on recent history, and the many problems this team is facing.

Recent history shows that the knockout stage is far more difficult than the group stage because the competition is left with the eight best teams. The pressure mounts, and each time a game ends, a nation is going home while the other continues on its quest for gold.

In 2008, the USA won group stage games by an average of 32.2 points, and in 2012, they won by an average of 38.2. However, once the knockout stage began, the US average margin of victory dropped to 20.7 in 2008, and 22 in 2012.

So, if the Redeem Team and the “second” Dream Team had this much trouble once the competition got stiffer, we can only imagine what will happen with this bunch.

The 2016 squad is obviously loaded with talent, but they, still, have not gel together. They look more like 12 supremely talented players waiting for their turn to shine on the wooden floor, as oppose to one dominant team stomping on everyone on their quest to Olympic supremacy.

In tight games, the United States don’t have a point guard who can deliver with smart play. Kyrie Irving is a great player, but he tends to be a bit reckless in close contests while Kyle Lowry has not shown yet, he can consistently be a clutch performer on both ends of the floor.

Kevin Durant is facing the same criticism he faced in recent years with the Oklahoma City Thunder, which is that he tends to shy away from his responsibility as the clear cut best player on the team. Carmelo Anthony is the leader, but at this stage in their careers, this is Kevin Durant’s team, and he needs to fulfill his role as the man in command.

Klay Thompson struggled, mightily, in the first four games, shooting an abysmal 4 for 26, but against France, he made it rain. Thompson poured in 30 points, including seven threes to guide the United States to a 100-97 win. The Splash Brother has redeemed himself, a little bit, but how long will it last? If he has another poor outing, it will be time for Coach Krzyzewski to bench him in favor of Jimmy Butler.

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Another problem facing the United States’ men’s team is their poor defense. Carmelo Anthony, DeMarcus Cousins, and Kyrie Irving are known for their offensive brilliance, and their lack of defense, and it is beginning to show.

The 2008, and 2012 Olympic teams were stacked with great defenders, which hid one-way players like Carmelo Anthony. When you can have Chris Paul, LeBron James, and Dwight Howard together on the court, it will be difficult to score for anybody.

Coach Krzyzewski has some defensive specialists on the squad such as Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green, and DeAndre Jordan. But, they have not played a lot since the beginning of the tournament. It is difficult to imagine Coach Krzyzewski changing his philosophy on the fly, but it might be his best option.

The big men are having a lot of difficulty making their presence felt on these Games. DeAdre Jordan, still, can’t shoot free throws to save his life, DeMarcus Cousins is having a hard time adjusting to international referees, and playing style, therefore Draymond Green is Coach Krzyzewski’s last option, but thus far, he has not played much.

Could Coach Krzyzewski’s change his starting five for a more defensive minded team, and, even, shake up his shooters? Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green is, still, an impressive starting five. But, at this point in the tournament, the majority of these players have not played a lot of minutes.

The United States are still the team to beat, and should be the favorites to win it all. But, for the first time in over a decade, the United States are not otherworldly. A sign that proves talent is not sufficient to win anymore.

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FIBA

Young Canadian squad shapes FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers

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Xavier Rathan Mayes Canada Vs Argentina

For the past twenty-plus (20) years starving Canadian basketball fans across the country have asked for more International sanctioned games on home soil.

Finally, it looks like those requests are materializing.

With the upcoming kick-off to the newly formatted road to the FIBA Basketball World Cup, the 2019 Americas Qualifiers taking place in Halifax, Nova Scotia will satisfy and quench the thirst of long-time East coast supporters of the National game.

A young, 25th-ranked Canadian squad will take on 59th ranked Bahamas, in a important Group D qualify game at the Scotiabank Centre.

Led by former number one pick of the 2013 NBA Draft, Anthony Bennett (Northern Arizona, G-League), the roster features a strong young crop of former Usports All-Canadians and NCAA Division I standouts. Additionally, a further testimony to the growth of Canadian University Basketball, Ryerson Rams head coach Roy Rana, headlines the coaching staff alongside Carleton Ravens coach Dave Smart.

Point guard duties will be handled by Olivier Hanlan, Phil Scrubb and Kaza Kajami-Keane. The latter two having won multiple Usports basketball championships under the tutelage of Smart. Three-point specialist Brady Heslip and along side confident Xavier Rathan-Mayes will look to fill it up for the outside. The front court will anchored by 6’8″ Anthony Bennett, Thomas Scrubb, (another Ravens All-Canadian) and former Acadia Axemen 6’10” Owen Klassen (Kingston, ON).

Overall the roster looks solid, given the lack of availability of Canada’s top talent due to changes in the qualifying format, and the NBA’s willingness to move aside and grant FIBA the release of its players, regardless of nationality for the World Cup qualifying periods.

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Placed in Group D alongside Virgin Islands, Bahamas and Dominican Republic. The young Canadians will play a home and away series against each team. After the Bahamas game, Canada will fly out to the Dominican Republic for a stern road test on November 28, 2017 to wrap up the opening qualifying window.  The second qualifier will take in late February with Canada once again hitting the road for games against the Virgin Islands and the Bahamas. The third qualifying window will see Canada host two more games on home soil on June 29 and July 2, 2018.

Canada is coming off a mediocre performance at the FIBA Americup dropping games to Virgin Islands 83-71, Argentina 92-86 with its only win against a tough Venezuela 75-66 team that denied the Canadians an Olympics appearance in Rio 2016.

Joel Anthony

Centre

6’9″

Montreal, QCFree Agent
Anthony Bennett

Forward

6’8″

Toronto, ONNorthern Arizona Suns (G-League)
Grandy Glaze

Centre

6’7″

Toronto, ONSt. John’s Edge (NBL Canada)
Olivier Hanlan

Guard

6’4″

Aylmer, QCAustin Spurs (G-League)
Brady Heslip

Guard

6’2″

Burlington, ONTrabzonspor (Turkey)
Kaza Kajami-Keane

Guard

6’1″

Ajax, ONRaptors 905 (G-League)
Owen Klassen

Centre

6’10”

Kingston, ONPAOK (Greece)
Dyshawn Pierre

Forward

6’6″

Whitby, ONBanco di Srd (Italy)
Xavier Rathan-Mayes

Guard

6’4″

Scarborough, ONWestchester Knicks (G-League)
Phil Scrubb

Guard

6’3″

Richmond, B.C.Fraport SKY (Germany)
Thomas Scrubb

Forward

6’6″

Richmond, B.C.Scandone AV (Italy)
Marc Trasolini

Centre

6’9″

Vancouver, B.C.Hokkaido L. (Japan)
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FIBA

Canadian Rowan Barrett Jr. Insane 38 points versus USA

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Canadian Rowan Barrett Jr. 38 Points Versus USA

Canadian Guard Rowan Barrett Jr. goes off for an insane 38 points versus USA at the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup in Cairo Egypt. Canada stunned the USA 99-87 to advance to Gold Medal game.

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FIBA

Angola’s Silvio de Sousa beastly 27 points, 21 rebounds against Korea

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Angola Silvio Sousa Dominates Korea 2017 FIBA U 19 World Cup
Photo: FIBA

Angola’s 18-year old Silvio de Sousa (6’9″, 240lbs) power forward is one of the rising stars of Angolan and African Basketball.

In his last FIBA U19 game in Cairo, De Sousa beasted Korea with 27 points and 21 rebounds as Angola closed-out the 2017 World Cup with a 55-53 win.

De Sousa, a bruising forward is the best polished Angolan Basketball player ever at this age and averaged a double-double at the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup in Egypt, Cairo with 17.3 points per game (3rd), 13.1 rebounds (1st), 2.1 assists and 1.4 steals.

The 2018 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida) four star recruit holds NCAA Basketball Division I offers from Florida, Louisville, Maryland, LSU and many others and currently represents Angola’s best chance at a future first round and potential NBA pick.

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