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!
Canada draws tough group for 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifier
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lance Stephenson Makin’ ‘Em Dance In China
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”!
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.
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.
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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