Basketball in Canada has grown tremendously over the last few years. With its popularity being at an all-time high it is fair to say that basketball in Canada has reached it’s prime. The Toronto Raptors could certainly take credit for the Nations view on basketball with it’s “We The North” campaign. This slogan has taken Canadians by storm. So much that the NBA has set a new D-League team in the GTA area, a Raptors affiliation called ‘Toronto 905’. The Raptors have taken advantage of the ‘buzz’ they have going on by adding two Toronto natives, a former NBA champion Cory Joseph and Anthony Bennett the first Canadian to be picked first overall in an NBA draft. This has got people believing that Tristan Thompson & Andrew Wiggins, both Toronto natives, will eventually join the Raptors as well.
This new regime in Canadian basketball translated to Canada coming out on fire at the 2015 FIBA Americas but unfortunately fell short of qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil as they finished with the bronze medal. All these accomplishments and recognition has paved the way for Canadian basketball players to be driven and motivated more than ever. Having the opportunity to go to open try-outs for the 905’s D-League team, also the National Basketball League of Canada (NBLC) who will be going into their 5th season. For years Canadian basketball players felt that most leagues favorite Americans due to their experiences. Those who lacked the funds of going to America had slim chances of making any professional basketball league. But it seems that all of that has changed. Luckily for Canadians the NBL Canada regulates a rule which every roster should have a minimum of 4 Canadian players even though most teams have actually carried up to 7. This rule has helped many talented Canadian players earn spots on rosters. Owners and managers continue on making NBL Canada a recognized league not only around the world, but also are taking greater strides by attempting to ‘canadianize’ the league from the ownership level down to the players. One team who has some NBL Canada affiliation that stood out the most the past year as an emerging and unique Canadian force in basketball was the Toronto 3D team.
Toronto 3D is a premier basketball club in Toronto that has gained quite the name for themselves since their inception only a year and a half ago. With all the professional teams in Toronto, 3D still managed to gain some respect. Four core athletes who play on the Toronto 3D have even been invited to private Raptor’s workouts. 3D creates a balanced program that allows Canadian basketball players to develop their talents, play semi-professional basketball and gain exposure all while transitioning into the real ‘work’ world after their college/university or pro-careers. Anything that becomes after that is just a bonus: such as players landing professional basketball contracts. For a program that has launched less than two years ago, it has accomplished a lot. They represented Canada in China in May in a tournament hosted by Beijing’s ATLAS Sports and the Chinese Basketball association where they played representatives of the NBA D-League’s IOWA Energy, Cairns Taipans the Australians NBL 1st place team and the Chinese National B team. Toronto 3D has also played against teams from the IBA, CBA, participated in the Toronto’s Pro-Am games, and went undefeated with a 13-0 record in the North Border Basketball League of 2014. The action did not stop there this summer for 3D as they even had 4 players representing them during a Pan-am game scrimmage against Brazil’s National Basketball team playing alongside Toronto Raptor’s James Johnson.
This program is starting to gain recognition and is up and coming as one of the most emerging basketball programs in Canada. Its success has landed a handful of player’s professional basketball contracts. Point guard Greg Carter out of Ottawa and a former 3X CIS Defensive player of the year received a contract with the NBL Canada Niagara River Lions. Toronto Guard Tramar Sutherland out of Toronto who played Div.1 for Little Rock Arkansas also earned himself a contract with Niagara River Lions. Denny McDonald out of Mississauga and a former Sheridan college & Trinity Western University player received a professional contract with NBL Canada’s Saint John Millrats. Shamar Coombs out of Toronto received a professional contract with the Caldas De Manizales a professional basketball club in Colombia. Overall the Toronto 3D has taken advantage of the uprising basketball opportunities in Canada and ran with it. To close the year they will have a mini tour in the United States where they will be playing against NCAA schools and semi-pro teams. With the determining goal of creating disciplined motivation, the 3D aims to help its dedicated players achieve their dreams. One things for sure is that the Toronto 3D’s future is looking bright!
Hot shooting Australia Boomers take down Canada
Canada wrapped-up a two-game exhibition series against 2019 FIBA World Cup group H foe and commonwealth neighbor with a 81-73 loss to the hot shooting Australia Boomers.
Canada started off slow as Australia made their defensive adjustments, after blowing out the Aussies 90-70 a day earlier by limiting the Canadians pick and roll opportunities and forcing Canada to shoot by going under screens. The Canadian’s trailed 13-6 early, but rallied with a 12-5 run to close the first-quarter with a 18-17 lead on a step-back jumper from Oshae Brissett.
Using a combination of U Sports basketball guards Canada opened up the second-quarter with back-to-back triples from Aaron Best and Kaza Kajami-Keane for a 26-19 lead with 7:27 to play. Australia responded with a 9-0 run to re-take the lead before Andrew Nembhard put a halt to the run with a easy lay-up. Khem Birch dropped in an inside basket to put Canada up 33-30 at half-time after a low-scoring 20 minutes.
The action picked-up in the third-quarter as both teams shot the ball extremely well, combining for a total of 56 points. Melvin Ejim scored Canada’s first five points and Khem Birch dominated the paint to give Team Canada a 48-38 advantage with 5:42 to play. Australia quickly found their stroke knocking down three-straight triples in less than minute – on their way to six in the quarter and a slim 60-59 lead after the third-quarter.
Canada’s offense dried-up in the fourth-quarter with just two points scored at the mid-way point as they settled for long jumpers and unnecessary three-pointers to quickly find themselves down 70-61 with 4:43 to play in the game.
Khem Birch sparked a late Canadian run, scoring 6 straight points to cut the lead down to 3 points at 70-67 with 3:30 to play and finished with a game-high 18 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals. Oshae Brissett added 14 points and 5 rebounds. Kaza Kajami-Keane rounded out Canada’s double-figure scores with 11 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists and Melvin Ejim contributed with 9 points and 7 rebounds.
The Boomers knocked down 12-31 (38%) from downtown, after shooting just 3-for-13 in the first-half. The Canadians were a miserable 7-of-25 (28%) from the outside and struggled with turnovers with 16. The Aussies grabbed 12 offensive boards and won the battle of the glass with a 43-40 edge.
“I thought it was very positive for us these two games, I thought we played extremely well, we competed, we played as a team, last night we obviously shot the ball a little bit better from three-point land but overall I thought it was a very positive two days for us.” – shared Canada’s Associate head coach Gordie Herbert after the game.
“We showed a lot of character these last two games, we had some guys not playing, but it was the same on their side. We played really tough, this is a great Australian team, they got a lot of great players and they are going to do very well. But I thought we showed promised and have the ability to compete no matter who we put on the floor.” – added Melvin Ejim.
Australia was led by Jock Landale with 13 points and 9 rebounds. Jonah Bolden added 12 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists and Chris Goulding with 10 points and 3 rebounds on 3-of -7 triples.
Canadian head coach Nick Nurse opted for a starting line-up that featured Andrew Nembhard, Philip Scrubb, Oshae Brissett, Kyle Wiltjer and Khem Birch while resting Kevin Pangos. Team Canada was also without the services of Cory Joseph and sharpshooter Brady Heslip. The Boomers played without Patty Mills and Andrew Bogut.
Both teams held back schemes, familiarized and acquainted themselves with each other and now have game footage in preparation for a crucial 2019 FIBA World Cup opening clash between the teams in less than two weeks in China.
Team Canada (2-2) will continue its FIBA World Cup preparations with a two-game series against New Zealand in Sydney, Australia on Tuesday August 20 and Wednesday August 21st.
Canada lays the boom defeats Australia 90-70
Canada opened-up a five-game pre-FIBA World cup exhibition schedule on foreign soil with an impressive 20-point, 90-70 win over Australia Boomers.
Playing with just one NBA player after inviting 17 to training camp, Canada dissected Australia’s poor pick and roll defense by controlling the tempo with outstanding guard play and timely three-point shooting.
Kevin Pangos 18 points, 6 assists , 4 steals, on 7-of-10 shooting, 4-of-6 triples paced five Canadian basketball players in double-figures.
“He just wants us to play aggressive and play with confidence and keep getting better, it’s a process, we don’t want to peak right now, we want to peak at the Worlds.” discussed Pangos post-game about head Coach Nick Nurse’s mentality coming into the physical affair against a team that is part of Canada’s group H at the World Cup.
19-year-old point-guard Andrew Nembhard finished with a double-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists playing a team-high 26 minutes.
“I’m just excited to be here, I feel like I’m supposed to be here and feel really comfortable on the court.” – opened-up Nembhard after the game.
Kaza Kajami-Keane came off the bench and hit a crucial three-pointer to end the third-quarter to restore orders for Canada and finished with 12 points. on 2-of-3 three-pointers. Kyle Wiltjer was crucial with 11 points and 6 rebounds including 3-of-6 from downtown.
Owen Klassen filling in for injured Olynyk was solid with 10 points and 4 rebounds. Philip Scrubb also chipped in with 10 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists.
Canada knocked down 13-of-32 (40%) triples and shot 36-of-79 (45%) from the the game.
Australia a team, loaded with NBA talent including Patty Mills, Joe Ingles (11 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists), Andrew Bogut (10 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists), Matthew Dellavedova (0 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds) were held to just 6-of-34 shooting from three-pointers and struggled with 15 turnovers — largely due to Team Canada’s active hands on defense.
Mills finished with a game-high 20 points knocking down 4 of Australia’s 6 three-pointers on just 4-of-13 outside the arc.
Nick Nurse opted for a starting line-up that featured Philip Scrubb, Kevin Pangos, Oshae Brissett (3 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists), Kyle Wiltjer and Khem Birch (6 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists). Both Brady Heslip and Melvin Ejim sat out this one out and will likely suit-up for the next game.
Canada improves to 2-1 in their 7-game pre-Fiba schedule and will take on the Aussies once again tomorrow as both teams get ready for the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.
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