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Tyson Hinz & Warren Ward Lead Team Canada To Universiade Finals

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For the first time in 14 years, Canada is one win away from a gold medal in men’s basketball at the Summer Universiade. Leaving nothing to chance, the Canadians never trailed on Sunday in their semifinal against Lithuania, winning 83-68 to advance to their first world university games final since 1997 in Sicily, Italy.

STATISTICS

Canada (5-1) will face defending champion Serbia (5-1) on Monday at 9:30 p.m. local time (9:30 a.m. ET) in its fifth final in 20 appearances at the FISU tournament. The game can be seen streaming on www.livefisu.tv.

The Serbians defeated Russia 81-61 in the other semifinal. The Canadians beat Serbia 70-67 in their second Pool B outing on Aug. 14.

“It’s fabulous,” said Team Canada bench boss Kevin Hanson of making the gold medal final. “These guys are all very focused, this is a mature group and we have been following that old cliché of ‘one game at a time.”

Ottawa native Tyson Hinz continued to be Canada’s go-to scorer and left the court with 21 points before fouling out late in the fourth, marking his third 20-plus point performance of the tournament.

“The guy is a winner, the fact that we are running everything through him isn’t a surprise to anybody,” said Hanson of his star forward. “He’s a bit undersized in the post, and a lot of people back home were questioning whether he can play internationally, and I think he is proving that he can right now.”

Hinz started slow, Lithuania keyed defensively on the reigning Canadian Interuniversity Sport player of the year, and he had only five points at the half. The Carleton University forward finished the game 6-for-14 from the field, including two three-pointers, and is averaging a team-best 16.2 points per game through six FISU contests.

“We are playing really well as a team and in particular we are defending well as a team,” said Hinz, who has led Canada in scoring in four of six games. “If they are going to key in on me, someone always steps up, whether it’s Boris [Bakovic], Warren [Ward], or someone else, we find a way.”

Lithuania (5-2) was perhaps suffering from an emotional and physical letdown after their 76-74 quarter-final upset of the United States on Saturday night and it showed in the first half, as the Canadians came out gunning. Toronto’s Bakovic scored the first eight points of the game for Canada, including two three-pointers, to open the quarter on an 8-to-2 run. The Canucks led 24-18 at the end of the first, and went into halftime up 39-29.

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It was more of the same in the third quarter, as Jahmal Jones of Mississauga, Ont., gave the Canadians their biggest lead of the third following a lay-up with 5:35 left in the quarter (49-33). But on the play Jones lost control in the air and came crashing down to the court chin first. Jones was forced to leave the game to get three stitches, but returned in the fourth quarter to a resounding ovation from the crowd.

The loss of Jones killed some of Canada’s momentum. Lithuania was able to get within six points (53-47) before Ward, of London, Ont., connected on a three-pointer with under 20 seconds left to put Canada up by nine (56-47) heading into the fourth.

“It feels really good, hopefully we can bring home a gold for Canada,” said Jones with a red bandage covering his chin, the handiwork of team Canada trainer Geoff Mabey. “I’m a younger guy on this team and I look up to a lot of the other guys here. They have been to the [CIS] final eight, the Carleton guys have won it, and they have been a huge help to me. If they had said before the tournament that Canada was going to win a medal, they probably would have laughed, but we are proving them wrong.”

The Canadians didn’t let their opponent off the mat in the fourth, their advantage never shrinking to under nine points and increasing to 17 on four occasions.

Lithuania had entered Sunday’s game as the third highest scoring team in the tournament, averaging over 83 points a game. But Canada’s strength in Shenzhen has been its team defence, and the Canucks held their European foes to just 3-for-26 shooting from beyond the arc, while winning the battle of the boards 50-to-41.

Bakovic and Ward each walked off the court with 16 points, while Gediminas Zyle led Lithuania with 15.

NOTES: Canada’s previous final appearances at the Universiade came in 1983 in Edmonton, 1991 in England, 1993 in Buffalo and 1997 in Italy… The Canadians’ lone title came in 1983 thanks to an 83-68 win over Yugoslavia… The 1983 triumph had been set up by a victory over an American squad that included, among others, future NBA legends Karl Malone and Charles Barkley…

CANADA’S MEDALS IN MEN’S BASKETBALL AT THE UNIVERSIADE (8):

Gold (1)
1983 (Edmonton, Canada): 83-68 win over Yugoslavia in final

Silver (3)
1997 (Sicily, Italy)
1993 (Buffalo, USA)
1991 (Sheffield, England)

Bronze (4)
2007 (Bangkok, Thailand)
2003 (Daegu, South Korea)
1995 (Fukuoka, Japan)
1985 (Kobe, Japan)

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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.

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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.

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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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