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.
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.
Canada romps Dominican Republic in opener of FIBA AmeriCup 2021 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 Caribbean nation to only 14 points in the final 10 minutes.
Andrew Nicholson (Mississauga, Ont), playing 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 (Vancouver, 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.
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.
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 hitting on just 12-of-21 (57.1%) attempts.
Canada’s defensive pressure forced the Dominican’s into 20 turnovers — leading to 29 points off of those mistakes for the Canadian’s.
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.
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 Virgin Islands and No. 64 Cuba in the two remaining qualification windows.
Andrew Nicholson back in the fold as Canada starts FIBA AmeriCup 2021 Qualifiers
2020 is shaping up to be another great year for Canadian basketball fans. The Tokyo summer games are less than five months away and Canada has the slim possibility of potentially sending both senior teams to the Olympics for the first time since 2000.
The ladies did their part, booking a spot in Tokyo with a clean 3-0 FIBA Olympic Qualifying tournament sweep in Belgium earlier this month. The men will look to do same in about four months time, via a once in a lifetime qualification tournament in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia.
But before we get ahead to the summer festivities, the first order of business of the new decade for the senior men’s team is the 2021 FIBA AmericaCup qualifiers.
FIBA AmericaCup formely known as the FIBA Americas Championship or the Tournament of Americas is hosted every two years and pits 16 national teams from the Americas zone. Previously, the tournament had qualification implications to the World Cup and the Olympics, but that is no longer the case — although, every game played still counts towards the FIBA World Rankings.
Canada will kick-off the first of three-qualification windows with a home-and-home series against the Dominican Republic. The FIBA AmeriCup Qualifiers includes 16 teams broken down into four groups. Canada is in Group C and will also play Cuba and the Virgin Islands. The top three teams from each Group will qualify for the FIBA AmeriCup 2021.
Andrew Nicholson a former first-round pick, 19th overall of the Orlando Magic headlines the 12-men roster tasked to take on the always formidable and tough Dominican team. Currently, under contract with China’s Guangzhou Loong Lions and back home due to the unexpected break in action in the Chinese Basketball League (CBL) from the deadly COVID-19 Coronavirus — Nicholson, is a timely and welcome addition.
The 6-foot-10 forward last played for Canada at the 2017 FIBA AmeriCup — Nicholson’s 12 point, 18 rebound double-double helped the Canadian’s beat hosts Argentina 92-86.
The roster features four returning players from the 2019 FIBA World Cup as former Carleton Ravens guards’ Philip Scrubb, Kaza-Kajami Keane, join two other U Sports basketball All-Canadian’s in forwards Owen Klassen (Acadia Axemen) and Conor Morgan (UBC Thunderbirds)
Scrubb, a key figure in Canada’s backcourt since the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 championships will earn his 54th and 55th international caps — 44 games played at the senior level and 11 at youth competitions.
The rest of the roster is made up of some new faces as Trae Bell-Haynes and Kassius Robertson make their Canadian team debuts. Most of the players are signed to European clubs with only Duane Notice (Raptors 905), Andrew Nicholson and Tyrell Bellot-Green not playing in Europe.
|Name||Position||Height||Hometown||Previous / Current Club|
|Trae Bell-Haynes||Guard||6’1”||Toronto, ON||Helsinki Seagulls (Finland)|
|Aaron Best||Guard||6’4”||Scarborough, ON||Paok Thessaloniki (Greece)|
|Kaza Kajami-Keane||Guard||6’2”||Ajax, ON||Syntainics MBC Weissenfels (Germany)|
|Owen Klassen||Centre||6’10”||Kingston, ON||Telenet Antwerp Giants (Belgium)|
|Kyle Landry||Centre||6’10”||Calgary, AB||KK Buducnost VOLI Podgorica (Montenegro)|
|MiKyle McIntosh||Forward||6’7”||Pickering, ON||Filou Oostende (Belgium)|
|Conor Morgan||Forward||6’9”||Victoria, B.C.||Divina Seguros Joventut Badalona (Spain)|
|Andrew Nicholson||Forward||6’9”||Mississauga, ON||Guangzhou Loong Lions (China)|
|Duane Notice||Guard||6’2”||Woodbridge, ON||Raptors 905 (G League)|
|Tyrell Bellot-Green||Forward||6’7”||Toronto, ON||London Lightning (Canada)|
|Kassius Robertson||Guard||6’3”||Toronto, ON||Lavoropiu Fortitudo Bologna (Italy)|
|Phil Scrubb||Guard||6’4″||Richmond, BC||Movistar Estudiantes Madrid (Spain)|
Canada FIBA AmeriCup 2021 Qualifiers
|February 21, 2020||Canada vs. Dominican Republic||7:00 PM||Tribute Communities Centre –Oshawa, ON|
|February 24, 2020||Canada @ Dominican Republic||7:00 PM||Palacio de los Deportes Virgilio Travieso Soto –Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic|
|November 26, 2020||Canada @ Cuba||TBD|
|November 29, 2020||Canada @ U.S. Virgin Islands||TBD|
|February 19, 2020||Canada vs. Cuba||TBD|
|February 22, 2020||Canada vs. U.S. Virgin Islands||TBD|