Rookie Rui Hachimura and sophomore Yuta Watanabe lead the new class of the next generation of basketball coming out of Japan. And this really is the year for the land of the rising sun, as this is the 2020 year of the Tokyo Olympics that will not only feature the best basketball players in the world going for gold from Team USA to Spain, but also concrete hold the debut of 3×3 Basketball on the streets of Tokyo being an actual Olympic event.
A lot of history is going through Japanese hoops this calendar.
And with this writer living out here on a one year visa, trying to write his own Olympic dream, it’s only right we check out some local basketball courtesy of the Yokohama B-Corsairs who played host to the Osaka Evessa this weekend and BasketballBuzz was in attendance to take it all in.
But Yokohama (which I will call home for the next 12 months) wasn’t exactly the best host to the outstanding city of Osaka (I vacation visited last fall like Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia on the way to visiting Kobe, Japan for reasons you know why…of course not the beef, I’m trying to go vegetarian), as they beat them 75-70 in a game as close as quarters that went back and forth all 40 like Aaliyah. Ending on an epic, breakaway clutch lay-up that is quite possibly the best end to a live game I’ve ever caught. And I’ve seen Washington win on a past the buzzer decision in London, seen Toronto go to two overtimes and even been lucky to see the likes of The Answer, The King and the one and only Kobe play.
But you just had to dive in to this one set in Yokohama’s gutted and drained international swimming pool which really showed new depths of arena architecture. Kids play areas and merch stands filled out the rest of this sports spaces lengths. Fans in attendance eating pork cutlets over hot dogs (the country is different, but the court culture like the passion and the game are the same) were given cardboard “Go Yokohama” banners that folded into almost traditional fans for the fans that when clapped sound like nothing else you’ve heard in celebratory passion. The international feel of Olympic Basketball this Summer in Tokyo will feel like it’s on a soccer fever pitch if its anything like the B-Corsairs.
And when the iconic port town Yokohama captain logo turned into a skull like the ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean’ you just knew it was on like Donkey Kong by the barrel load.
New 36 year old Yokohama head coach Shogu Fukuda debuted with a win after taking over the helm from 70 year old legend Tom Wisman this week. Reginald Beckton lead the way, dominant inside with a 31 point and 15 board double. Whilst James Southerland added 15 for his efforts, to go along with 11 from Aki Chambers and Shusuke Ikuhara’s 8.
Osaka gave all they’ve got however as Josh Harrellson going toe-to-toe with Belton had his own 25/13 double/double. Whilst Richard Hendrix jammed 23 and kept the defence honest with 3 steal swipes. But we all know which steal took it all like ABBA.
It was the last lay-up that left a lasting impression on this visitor and the visiting Osaka who had Yokohama on the ropes 38-33 at the half. These two teams play again as we speak. This writer for sure too will make port with Yokohama Basketball again.
The Japanese road to the 2020 Olympic Basketball campaign in Tokyo starts down the floor and in pools like these.
As promotional posters all around this port town tell you to “beat the old you”, the motto of this team is, “be courageous” and that’s a message we can all go home inspired with.
Let’s go B-Corsairs.
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 the Caribbean nation to only 14 points in the final 10 minutes.
Andrew Nicholson (Mississauga, Ont.) playing in 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 (Richmond, 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 findin the bottom of the net 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 ranked 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|