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Andrew Wiggins and Nik Stauskas

Wiggins And Stauskas Help Canada Crush Cuba 101-59

As expected Canada took out their frustrations after an opening game loss to Argentina on the hapless Team Cuba 101-59 at the FIBA Americas tournament in Mexico. Canada lead wire to wire and was up by 20 points after the first quarter. Andrew Wiggins and Nik Stauskas led Canada with 15 points apiece as head coach Jay Triano spread the minutes around as evenly as he could between his 12 players.

This game didn’t even reach the heights of a mediocre intersquad game for Canada. The Canadians scored at will, racked up 29 assists on 35 made field goals and outrebounded their opponent 52-34. The Canadians ran for a 36-4 fast break point advantage and controlled points in the paint 46-26. Points off turnovers was 13-0 for Canada. Basically Cuba was overmatched in every aspect of the game.

Canada 9-2Boxscore

Cuba falls to 0-3 and will not advance past the preliminary round. Canada plays Venezuela on Thursday.

 

 

Luis Scola

You Reach, I Teach, Luis Scola Humbles Team Canada

If the NBA player laden Team Canada has a weakness it’s that they are young and the Argentine veteran Luis Scola was more than happy to teach his inexperienced opponents a few things on his way to a 35 point 13 rebound performance in his team’s humbling 94-87 victory.

Canada may be the favorite at the 2015 FIBA Americas, but Argentina is a close second and Scola has been a Team Canada killer for the better part of a decade. It was no different this time. After a slow start in which Scola uncharacteristically threw up a couple of air balls and shot 2-9 from the field for just 4 points in the first quarter, the FIBA superstar – and Scola has been nothing less than a superstar at this event for years – started taking over. Making the 7′ Kelly Olynyk look like the smaller man on the court, Scola shot 4-6 for 11 points in the second quarter as Argentina eliminated Canada’s 20-17 first period advantage to go into the half up 46-42. Unfortunately for Canada, Scola was only just starting to heat up.

“Scola is a really good player,” said Olynyk during the postgame presser. “He has a lot of stuff to his game. He can shoot the ball, drive and close out. In the post he is real tough to guard, up-and-unders and lots of fakes. He is a guy that you really have to stay disciplined on.”

Argentina runs virtually every offensive set through Scola and the veteran took advantage of his young opponents at every turn. His crafty and somewhat embarrassing (for Canada) play could be summed up by what his did to the burgeoning young superstar Andrew Wiggins in the third quarter. As Wiggins reached to impede Scola’s progress, the veteran changed direction and went inside for the easy layup leaving Wiggins wondering where he had gone. Wiggins wasn’t the only Canadian Scola left standing in disbelief as he scored 18 points and grabbed 5 boards in the quarter. None of the other Canadian players were fairing any better guarding Scola.

“Through their offense, (Scola) touched the ball two, three, four times per possession,” Olynyk said. “It’s tough to guard. We got to guard him with five guys and we didn’t do a great job on him unfortunately.”

This game was close. While Scola was an unstoppable force, Canada has a depth of talent that no other team in this tournament can touch. It wasn’t until Argentina went on a 11-2 run in the fourth quarter aided by three Team Canada turnovers that either team led by double-digits.

Canada did make a lot of noise at the end. Olynyk made a 2-point shot with two minutes to go that started an 8-0 run punctuated by dunks from Anthony Bennett and Wiggins to get to within 4 points, but that was as close as they got.

“The second time we played against Scola and Nocioni, we know they are veteran players,” head coach Jay Triano said. “It was a good experience for us.”

Canada had four players scoring in double-digits. Wiggins and Bennett had 13 points each. Brady Heslip and Olynyk had 11 points each with Olynyk adding 10 boards. However Canada was uncharacteristically outrebounded 48-44 and outscored in the paint 52-44. Plus, turnovers have been a problem for Canada all summer and Argentina turned 13 turnovers into 20 points.

Boxscore

Canada plays Cuba on Wednesday. As Cuba isn’t very good, look for the Canadians to take out their frustrations from Tuesday’s game on them.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

Luis Scola faces left

Raptors Luis Scola Dominates In Argentina’s Win Over Puerto Rico

Luis Scola tried to tell the Raptors media that he’s got a lot left to give before heading off to join his National Team and in Argentina’s 91-86 opening win over Puerto Rico at the 2015 FIBA Americas he dominated his opposition. Scola scored a game high 22 points on 56 percent shooting from the field and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds, including a demoralizing 5 offensive boards – just one less than everyone on Puerto Rico. Just to round things out, Scola had a team-high 5 assists.

“I think I can play,” Scola told the media in Toronto. “I feel like my legs are okay. I don’t think I have any limitations. I really work hard, it’s the key to everything and it’s been working for me lately. For the most part I stay healthy. I (spend) a lot of time on it and hopefully I can continue on that path. I expect to be a big part of the (Raptors).”

After his recent performances, the Argentine forward appears to lean towards understatement.  He’s in great shape.

In some ways Scola’s performance on day one wasn’t a surprise. At the Tuto Marchand Cup last week, he led the entire tournament in scoring, rebounding and assists per game. However, this week teams are fighting for a spot at the 2016 Olympics, so there’s a lot more at stake and just like he’s done in past years, Scola took his game to another level.

FIBA struggled to describe just how much Scola dominated this game.

With the inexhaustible talent of Luis Scola …
the fight in the paint area by Luis Scola …
Scola was simply unstoppable

 

Scola will take on Team Canada next on Tuesday at 3:30pm ET. The game is on TSN4.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

Joseph & Wiggins

Team Canada Sets 12 Man 2015 FIBA Americas Roster

The 2015 FIBA Americas tournament in Mexico kicks off today and Canada plays their first game of the preliminary round on Tuesday at 3:30 pm ET. Basketball Canada announced the 12 man roster for the Olympic qualifier as follows:

Anthony Bennett, Aaron Doornekamp, Melvin Ejim, Brady Heslip, Cory Joseph, Andrew Nicholson, Kelly Olynyk, Dwight Powell, Robert Sacre, Phil Scrubb, Nik Stauskas, and Andrew Wiggins.

22-year-old guard Olivier Hanlan who plays professionally for BC Zalgiris in Lithuania didn’t make the cut from the Tuto Marchand Cup warm-up tournament team that played last week. Head Coach Jay Triano said the preliminary tournament was a good learning experience.

“The Tuto Marchand was a good learning experience for us as we were able to play some very good competition,” said Head Coach Jay Triano after the team went 4-0 in the Tuto Marchand Continental Cup in San Juan, Puerto Rico. “We still have work to do and know the importance of the games in Mexico.”

The only top players Canada is missing at this tournament are Tristan Thompson, in contract negotiations with the Cavaliers, and Jamal Murray, had to return to the University of Kentucky.

TSN will be showing all of Team Canada’s games. Basketball Canada has the complete TV broadcast schedule.

  • Canada vs ArgentinaTuesday, Sept. 1 at 3 p.m. ET on TSN4 and TSN5
  • Cuba vs CanadaWednesday, Sept. 2 at 3 p.m. ET on TSN4 and TSN5
  • Canada vs  VenezuelaThursday, Sept. 3 at 6:55 p.m. ET on TSN4
  • Puerto Rico vs CanadaFriday, Sept. 4 at 6:55 p.m. ET on TSN4 and TSN5

Canada’s opener will feature the Toronto Raptors Cory Joseph facing off against his teammate from Argentina Luis Scola.

The top two finishers at this tournament will secure a spot at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

Anthony Bennett scrum

Timberwolves Anthony Bennett Finds His Game With Team Canada

It’s been an interesting summer for the Timberwolves Anthony Bennett. Playing a lot of undersized “center” for Team Canada, the 6’8 Bennett seems to have found his game. At the very least he’s been active and effective and those aren’t phrases that have been thrown around a lot with his name attached until recently.

Steve Nash 2015“I think the game is played with a lot more versatility these days,” Team Canada general manager Steve Nash said. “I think it’s very common for teams to play smaller, quicker, more mobile, more versatile at both ends of the floor. Obviously Anthony has a lot of versatility. He can play multiple positions.”

Jay Triano scrum compressed“(Bennett) has arguably been our highest energy guy in practice,” head coach Jay Triano said. “I don’t really try to classify who’s a four and who’s a five, who’s a center and who’s a power forward. We ask our first big down the floor to be the guy who occupies space and looks for something in transition and with his speed and the way that he runs, he is usually the first guy down the floor. Now if you want to call that the four or the five then you can give it a number, but I told him not to worry about numbers, be the first guy down (and) rebound the crap out of the ball. Get it every time that it’s available. I said that will keep you on the floor longer, that will let other people see what type of skills that you have and he has a lot of basketball skills.”

Without a doubt, at both the Pan Am Games and the Tutu Marchand Cup, Bennett has rebounded the crap out of the ball and picked up his share of double-doubles.

The Cleveland Cavaliers should never have taken the Canadian big man first overall in the 2013 NBA Draft. He was coming off an injury and no one except Cleveland thought he would go that high. After a brutally disappointing rookie campaign, the Cavs managed to foist him onto the Timberwolves as part of the Kevin Love trade where things went only marginally better. Bust is a word most often associated with Bennett over his first two seasons, but injuries and competition of playing time have played a big role in that.

He has only averaged 54.5 games and 14.3 minutes in his first two NBA seasons, so the 4.7 points and 3.4 rebounds should be understandable – not that there’s a whole lot of sympathy out the for a first overall draft pick earning over $5 million a season. For the teams he has played for, those results still hurt.

What might signal things could get better is his per 36 minute averages of 11.9 points and 8.6 rebounds. The Cavs couldn’t have got their scouting so wrong that there isn’t actual talent here – assuming he can get and stay healthy.

“The body is healthy,” Triano said after watching Bennett working out with Team Canada. “He is as fit as he’s ever been. He is in great shape.”

At the Pan Am Games in Toronto, Bennett was a major factor in Canada winning their first ever medal at this tournament. Averaging 15.6 points on 56 percent shooting and 9.4 rebounds in 26.4 minutes over the five games, Bennett was the mobile big man Coach Triano envisioned he could be. Bennett even hit on 5 of his 14 three-point attempts, but it was his activity and team-leading rebounding that made him so effective.

In Puerto Rico at the Tuto Marchand Cup, Canada went undefeated and Bennett put in another couple of double-double performances over the four games as he averaged 11.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in 23.8 minutes. Bennett led his team in rebounding once again.

Bennett has looked good with Team Canada this summer, but that doesn’t mean the trade rumors are about to go away or that Minnesota is about to go small and versatile with Nikola Pekovic, Karl Anthony-Towns, Gorgui Deng, Nemanja Bjelica and Adreian Payne all needing minutes. However, for perhaps the first time since Bennett was drafted, we got a taste of what he can do and could become.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

Anthony Bennett - croppedTimberwolves Anthony Bennett To Play Center For Canada

 “(Bennett will) probably (play) the four and the five,” Triano said. “I don’t mind him playing the five spot, especially if Andrew Nicholson is spreading the floor as a stretch four. He has got that ability where he, depending on who he is on the floor with, he can be a guy who can stretch the floor or he can roll and do damage inside.”

 

 

Andrew Wiggins scrum fl

Wiggins Scores 20 As Canada Goes Undefeated In Puerto Rico

For the second time in four games, Andrew Wiggins led Team Canada to victory at the Tuto Marchand Continental Cup. Canada taking a hotly contested game 78-72 from their previously undefeated hosts Puerto Rico. The Canadians wrapped up this warm-up tournament at 4-0.

Wiggins opened the scoring with a free throw and scored 7 of his 20 points in the initial quarter as Canada got out to the early 19-14 first quarter lead. In perhaps his best game of the tournament, Wiggins finished shooting 8-18 with 2 three-pointers, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and 2 blocked shots.

Canada played exceptional defense over the first half, holding their hosts to just 31 points and taking a 7 point advantage into the break. The lead ballooned to 12 points early in the third quarter on a Nicholson three-pointer, but Canada nearly gave it all away as Puerto turned up the physical play to go on a 13-4 run over 2.3 minutes and eventually tie the game at 57 just before the quarter ended. Head coach Jay Triano told Basketball Canada it was a hard fought game.

“I thought it was a hard-fought game – very, very scrappy. I thought Puerto Rico played extremely well, won a lot of the battles, the 50-50 balls and caused problems for us with their size and speed,” said Head Coach Jay Triano. “In the end, it was a good win for us, we were able to move the basketball well, we played unselfishly and we really defended when we needed to.”

In a wild fourth quarter Canada managed a couple of short runs to regain the lead and no one could score in the final minute as Canada held Puerto Rico to just one shot by grabbing three offensive boards, two by point guard Cory Joseph.

Andrew Nicholson broke out in this game, shooting 6-7 from the field with 4 three-pointers to tally 16 points. Melvin Ejim put up the double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds including 6 offensive boards. Joseph filled the stats sheet with 9 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and a blocked shot.

 

Canada 8-26-2015Boxscore

The real action gets underway on September 1st when Canada takes on Argentina in their first game of the preliminary round at the 2015 FIBA Americas tournament in Mexico. Their reward for looking this good at the Pan Am games and the Tuto Marchand Continental Cup is TSN will be showing their games (and the entire tournament). Basketball Canada has the complete TV broadcast schedule.

  • Canada vs ArgentinaTuesday, Sept. 1 at 3 p.m. ET on TSN4 and TSN5
  • Cuba vs CanadaWednesday, Sept. 2 at 3 p.m. ET on TSN4 and TSN5
  • Canada vs  VenezuelaThursday, Sept. 3 at 6:55 p.m. ET on TSN4
  • Puerto Rico vs CanadaFriday, Sept. 4 at 6:55 p.m. ET on TSN4 and TSN5

The top two finishers at this tournament will secure a spot at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

Brady Heslip by MoVernie (edited)

Brady Heslip Leads Canada To Third Straight Win

Brady Heslip netted a game-high 14 points by nailing four three-pointers to lead five different Canadians in double-digit scoring en route to a 86-74 win over the Dominican Republic at the Tuto Marchand Cup in Puerto Rico on Tuesday. With the win, Canada goes undefeated into the final contest against Puerto Rico on Wednesday.

The Dominican Republic proved to be Canada’s toughest challenge so far in Puerto Rico. After a tight first quarter, Canada finally started to break away by riding the hot hand of Heslip who hit three three-pointers during a 14-6 run to close out the half. Canada taking a 48-31 lead into the break and looking to be in complete control.

The two teams traded baskets in the third quarter right up until the final 1 minute and 7 seconds when Dwight Powell, Melvin Ejim and Cory Joseph each turned the ball over in quick succession to hand their opponent a 7-0 run to close out the quarter. The bad play continued for two more minutes into the fourth quarter with turnovers by Aaron Doornekamp and Heslip and then Anthony Bennett bricking a pair of free throws right before the Dominican closed the gap to 62-57 as part of an 11-0 run going back to the third. Basketball Canada reports head coach Jay Triano was searching for a group of guys to respond to the challenge.

“I think both teams got off to a real slow start in the game but we were able to get things going in the second quarter and have a big half time lead,” said head coach Jay Triano. “We let them back in the game. I thought they were more aggressive in their defence and attacking the basket. We found a group of players and our guys responded to the challenge again after letting [a team] back in it.”

It was a group effort that took back the lead for Canada punctuated by a pair of three-pointers by Nik Stauskas as part of an 18-3 run that put Canada up by 20 points with 4 minutes and 21 seconds left in the game. Canada was able to cruise in from there for the victory.

Bennett came up with his second big double-double of the tournament scoring 12 points and taking down 10 boards. Ejim was huge with 12 points of his own plus 9 rebounds. Phil Scrub had 12 points and Andrew Wiggins rounded out the group of double-digit scorers with 11 points.

In what has become a theme for Team Canada at this tournament, they dominated on the glass 52-29.

 

Canada 8-25-2015Boxscore

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

Dwight Powell

Revenge, Dwight Powell Leads Canada Past Brazil 80-64

Canada grabbed a small measure of revenge for Brazil beating them in the Pan Am Gold Medal Game a month ago by laying a 80-64 beating on their opponent at the Tuto Marchand Continental Cup in Puerto Rico on Monday. Canada never trailed and was up by as much as 25 points in the fourth quarter, the Dallas Mavericks Dwight Powell coming off the bench to lead all scorers with 18 points in 18 minutes. Basketball Canada reporting head coach Jay Triano was happy with his team’s depth.

“It was a defensive battle in the first half so we tried to create some more in transition. In the second half, we were able to get up and down the floor a little bit better,” said Head Coach Jay Triano. “Our depth was very good, especially offensively. We got 50 points off the bench but I was more pleased with the way the guys came off the bench and followed what the starters had done defensively.”

The Canadians won each of the four quarters and demolished Brazil on the glass 47-30. Powell and Andrew Nicholson each added 8 rebounds. Anthony Bennett continued his strong play with 16 points in just under 15 minutes of action as he scored 11 straight points over a 3.5 minute span early in the third quarter to help Canada regain a double-digit lead. Brady Heslip chipped in with 15 points on 6-12 shooting.

Andrew Wiggins, who led Canada on Sunday against Argentina, was held to just 2-8 from the field for 9 points and starting point guard Cory Joseph was held to just 2 points, but this isn’t the same Team Canada that has headed out into international competitions in the past. This time the Team Canada roster has a depth of players from the NBA that was unimaginable only a few years ago.

 

Canada 8-24-2015Boxscore

Canada plays the Dominican Republic next on Tuesday.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

Andrew Wiggins 2015

Andrew Wiggins Leads Canada Past Argentina 85-80

Andrew Wiggins led Canada past Argentina 85-80 in the opener of the Tuto Marchand Continental Cup in Puerto Rico on Sunday, scoring 18 points in 26 minutes of action. Head coach Jay Triano giving his starting point guard Cory Joseph the day off and going 11 deep into his 12 man roster.

This was a big test for Canada as they’ll face Argentina again in their opener at the 2015 FIBA Americas Olympic qualifying tournament on September 1st and the young squad stood up well against a team featuring two of the more dominant veteran forwards playing international ball, the 35-year-olds Luis Scola and Andres Nocioni.

Argentina didn’t pull any punches with their veteran leaders. Scola played 30 minutes, scored a game high 23 points and added 8 boards, 2 steals and a block. Nocioni matched Scola in scoring with 23 points in 27 minutes.

Canadian head coach Jay Triano spread the minutes around, but holding back on some of his big offensive weapons from prior years like Andrew Nicholson (9 minutes) and Joseph (DNP-CD). However, he continued promoting the development of the NBA’s most maligned former number one overall draft pick Anthony Bennett as his versatile big man racked up 10 points and 13 rebounds in 33 minutes. This summer under Triano has been a boost to Bennett’s reputation. Basketball Canada reports Triano was pleased with his team’s first game.

“That was a very good first game for us. Argentina is a good basketball team, they stayed right with us,” said Head Coach Jay Triano. “For a lot of our players, it’s the first time on the senior national team and we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”

Canada won the rebounding battle 46-34 and made a 30-23 first quarter lead stand up the rest of the way for the win. Canada led by as much as 15 points in the third quarter with Argentina coming all the way back to tie the game midway through the fourth quarter but unable to take the lead.

Canada 8-23-15Boxscore

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

Jay Triano 2015Team Canada Announces 13 Man Roster For Puerto Rico

“We’ve had an intense camp and we’re looking forward to transitioning into game play,” said Jay Triano, Head Coach. “Tuto Marchand will give us an opportunity to play against some of our key competition prior to the Olympic qualifier.”

 

 

Jay Triano 2015

Team Canada Announces 13 Man Roster For Puerto Rico

Team Canada Senior Men’s National Team (SMNT) has announced their 13 man roster for the Tuto Marchand Continental Cup in Puerto Rico that starts next week. This is a tune-up for the Olympic qualifier in Mexico City, the 2015 FIBA Americas Men’s Championship, at the end of the month.

“We’ve had an intense camp and we’re looking forward to transitioning into game play,” said Jay Triano, Head Coach. “Tuto Marchand will give us an opportunity to play against some of our key competition prior to the Olympic qualifier.”

The roster includes: Anthony Bennett, Aaron Doornekamp, Melvin Ejim, Olivier Hanlan,  Brady Heslip, Cory Joseph, Andrew Nicholson, Kelly Olynyk, Dwight Powell, Robert Sacre, Phil Scrubb, Nik Stauskas, and Andrew Wiggins.

Tuto Marchand is an exhibition tournament featuring five National Teams playing four games in five days to help teams prepare for the similarly grueling schedule in Mexico.

Canada plays:

  1. Aug 23 Argentina
  2. Aug 24 Brazil
  3. Aug 25 Dominican Republic
  4. Aug 26 Puerto Rico

It’s normal for teams to limit players’ minutes and hold back the sets they are prepared to show as they may play many of these very same teams again the next week.

The SMNT will reduce their roster to 12 men prior to the 2015 FIBA Americas Men’s Championship.

The games will be available on-line at LiveBasketball.TV

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

Brady Heslip headshot 2015Burlington’s Brady Heslip Lands A Nice Contract in Italy

“Our big thing is to help these players because if we help them become better basketball players, they can come back and help us become a better basketball nation,” Team Canada head coach Jay Triano.

Brady Heslip headshot 2015

Burlington’s Brady Heslip Lands A Nice Contract in Italy

A couple of the announcers at the Pan Am Games let it slip during a Team Canada match that Burlington’s Brady Heslip was about to sign a nice new contract in Europe for next season, then an oops, they weren’t supposed to say that. They shouldn’t have worried. Italy’s Pallacanestro Cantu made the formal announcement shortly after the tournament ended.

Basketball Cantu has hired Canadian guard Brady Heslip for the next season.

“Heslip is a guard with strong quality offense,” Sports Director of Basketball Cantù, Daniele Della Fiori said. “His career has always been characterized by an excellent percentage from the three point arc, but his knowledge of basketball, the ability to bring the ball up and his remarkable fighting spirit make him a complete player and not just a shooter.”

Details of the contract have not been released, but are believed to be in the mid-six figures.

In the past head coach Jay Triano has openly discussed the importance of using Team Canada to help Canadian players get jobs in the professional ranks. It’s good for the development of the program and it helps keep the talent pool Team Canada has built as large as possible.

“(The players) get to be seen,” Triano said last year. “They get the experience of playing the international game and the scouts do not have to travel here to find them. This summer, we are going into (the European teams) backyard. If it opens up opportunities for our players to keep playing and become employed as basketball players then it’s a great trip.

“Our big thing is to help these players because if we help them become better basketball players, they can come back and help us become a better basketball nation.”

Heslip acknowledged how Team Canada helped him land his nice new paying job this summer.

“Since I started playing about five or six years ago, I just got more confidence every time I’ve felt I’ve added something new to my game every year and recently when I played (for Canada) in 2013 performing and producing and having good games, it gave me a lot of confidence to know I could play at the highest level,” Heslip said recently. “Everybody on our team has a job now, so nobody is worried about auditioning and everyone is just worried about winning and qualifying for the Olympics. I’m going to Italy.”

Heslip has been a big part of Team Canada in the past and he has provided a major-league scoring punch in international contests. With so many FIBA teams using zone defenses, a knock-down three-point specialist like Heslip is essential at times to create any kind of offense. Look for him to continue to be a big part of Team Canada even with the influx of NBA talent.

“I feel like Brady really thrives in this style of play,” Nik Stauskas said. “Especially with his shooting and his ability to space the floor and I feel that it would even be cool to see both of us on the floor at the same time on both wings and really just spread the floor out. Brady is a great player and I’ve known Brady for years.”

Heslip played in the NBA D-League and professionally in Europe for a brief period last season and proved his amazing shooting stroke is no fluke. Heslip can score points in bunches in just about any situation. Pallacanestro Cantu has got themselves a very good player for next season.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

Brady Heslip walkingShould Raptors Give Canadian Brady Heslip a Camp Invite?

“The thing he does best is shoot the basketball,” Triano said. “But, Brady is a good playmaker as well and he knows how to score, whether it’s a shot or a drive to the basket. He is unselfish as a driver and he finds guys who are open. His ability offensively is going to help (Team Canada) score points.”

 

Team Canada group shot 8-17

Canada Basketball Hosts Talent Identification Weekend

If you are a budding young Canadian basketball talent that has a chance to take their game to the next level, you owe it to yourself to get on the radar of the National Team Program. Basketball Canada is hosting a series of talent identification sessions for boys born in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003 starting Thursday September 3rd thru September 6th at Humber College North Campus in Toronto.

The cost is nominal at $20, space is limited, but the opportunity shouldn’t be missed. The players attending this program could be standing at center court with Team Canada in the not too distant future.

Basketball on-court skill development and evaluation will be led by Canada Basketball TAS and National coaches.

The program is open to athletes with Canadian citizenship who meet the age requirements. Full details and session times including registration forms and insurance waiver forms are available from Canada Basketball.

Canada Basketball Talent Identification Weekend

Targeted Athlete Strategy (TAS)

WHAT & WHY:

Canada Basketball will be hosting a series of talent identification sessions to identify athletes. This year’s talent identification sessions will be held over four days; Thursday, September 3rd to Sunday, September 6th, 2015. These sessions are an opportunity for Canada Basketball to evaluate athletes who demonstrate the potential to participate in either the boys Junior Academy Program or the men’s youth National Team Program in the future. These identification sessions are a component of Canada Basketball’s Targeted Athlete Strategy (TAS).

DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM(S):

2003 and 2002 Junior Academy Program: The Junior Academy is part of the Targeted Athlete Strategy (TAS) Program, which was designed to assist and guide the development of athletes in the youth age group category. The goal of the Academy is to help the athletes train to become “Global Players.” The curriculum focuses on the development of on-court skills, as well as personal development to foster individuals who may one day represent both the sport and Canada.

2001, 2000, and 1999 Targeted Athlete Strategy (TAS) Program: Our Targeted Athlete Strategy (TAS) Program is part of our Cadet and Junior Men’s National Team program which is designed to assist and guide the development of the targeted athlete.  Through weekly training from September 2015 to June 2016, selected targeted athletes will be trained to develop physical strength and on-court skills in hope to represent our country at international competitions.

WHERE: Humber College, North Campus Main Gymnasium (205 Humber College Blvd, Toronto, ON M9W 5L7)

WHEN & WHO:

The four days are open to any athletes with Canadian citizenship who meet the age requirements. Please note that enrollment is limited and will be capped for each age group, so athletes are encouraged to register immediately to secure their participation.

 

COST:

The Talent ID weekend will cost $20.

Cash will be the only payment and will be accepted on site, on September 3rd and 4th.

 

DATES:

Junior Academy ID Camp 2003’s – Thursday, September 3rd – 7:00pm to 10:00pm.

Junior Academy ID Camp 2002’s – Friday, September 4th – 9:00am to 12:00pm.

TAS ID Camp 2001’s – Friday, September 4th – 2:00pm to 5:00pm.

TAS ID Camp 2000’s  & 1999’s – Friday, September 4th – 7:00pm to 10:00pm.

Junior Academy 2002 & 2003 Invites –  Saturday, September 5th – 9:00am to 12:00pm.

TAS ID Camp 2001  & 2000 Invites – Saturday, September 5th – 2:00pm to 5:00pm.

TAS ID Camp 1999 & CMNT Invites – Saturday, September 5th – 7:00pm to 10:00pm

CMNT TAS Invites – Combine – Sunday, September 6th – 11:00am to 5:00 pm

 

* ID Sessions will include on-court skill development and competitive components led by Canada Basketball TAS and National Team coaches.

HOW TO REGISTER:

Athletes will need to fill out the online registration form and the attached insurance form for the talent identifications sessions. Click here for the online registration form. Click here for the insurance form.

 

Registration Form & Insurance Waiver

IMPORTANT: To register for both sessions please complete both the registration form and waiver in full, then sign, and submit on the day off prior to the start of the on-court session.  Insurance waiver forms must be signed by a parent/guardian and are required for the sessions.

Basketball on-court skill development and evaluation will be led by Canada Basketball TAS and National coaches for athletes born in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003.

Canada Basketball Targeted Athlete Strategy

 

 

 

Joseph & Triano

Team Canada Is Stealing From The Spurs

It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, but Team Canada head coach Jay Triano is unabashedly stealing sets from the San Antonio Spurs offense. It makes perfect sense. The Spurs offense has the look and feel of the international game and Team Canada’s starting point guard Cory Joseph has played with the Spurs for the last four years.

“We are following (a Spurs style),” Triano said. “I think it’s been an offense that has been duplicated by many teams across the NBA. The Atlanta Hawks are doing it, the Utah Jazz are doing it and I think they are having a lot of success with it. I wanted my point guard (Joseph) to feel comfortable with the sets that he is running, be very familiar with it, so there is a little bit of a strategic reason as to why we are doing it as well. I want Cory to be as comfortable as possible with everything that we are doing.

“(Joseph) is our starting point guard. He’s the guy we are going to lean on to run this team. We expect him to be the floor general.”

Joseph learned a lot during his four seasons with the NBA Champion Spurs. From year one spent in the D-League when no one would talk to him, to starting 19 games during the 2014 championship season, to finding a bigger role last season while starting 14 times.

“Obviously being in San Antonio for four years helped me a lot,” Joseph said. “Playing behind All-Star point guard Tony Parker, I learned from great players, I learned from a great coach. It helped me a lot. I feel like I made great strides every year. I definitely take stuff from Tony’s game being there over the years learning stuff from him.”

He has also developed quite a bit by playing with Team Canada, from a minor role at the FIBA Americas in 2011 to a leadership position in 2013 at the same tournament. Last summer he was a force for Canada during a series of exhibition games in Europe. Joseph is not just comfortable with his role on Team Canada, he owns it.

“I’ve been leading the point guard here for a while, so I am comfortable with that position/ role, being an extension of the coach on the floor,” Joseph said.

Team Canada’s style hasn’t gone unnoticed by some of the recent additions to the roster either. Nik Stauskas noticed just how familiar some of those offense sets looked.

“A lot of the stuff that we are running or a lot of stuff we are trying to do is kind of Spurs-like, so (Joseph) fits right in to what we are trying to do,” Stauskas said.

So Team Canada is stealing from the Spurs. They probably had to get in line to do it.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

Cory Joseph 2015Raptors Cory Joseph Leads Canada’s Best Men’s Basketball Team Ever

While not every player Team Canada Head Coach Jay Triano would like to be there is available, this will be the best SMNT ever assembled. “We’ve got the most talent we’ve ever had in Canada in a gymnasium at one time, it’s great,” Triano said.

 

 

Andrew Wiggins 2015

Team Canada To Lean On Andrew Wiggins At FIBA Americas

It’s really no surprise that Team Canada plans to lean on 20-year-old phenom Andrew Wiggins at the 2015 FIBA Americas tournament in Mexico during September. The NBA’s Rookie of the Year was a horse for the Minnesota Timberwolves during his first pro season, logging the second most minutes in the league at 2,969 while playing in all 82 games.

Wiggins learned fast in Minnesota. Averaging just 12.3 points and 1.0 assist in 29.9 minutes in November, he was tearing things up by April averaging 23.3 points and 4.0 assists in 41.2 minutes over the final month. The first overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft proved his superstar potential.

“I think that every level he has played at, teams have leaned on him,” Team Canada head coach Jay Triano said. “Even as a rookie last year in the NBA playing all the games that he did. We are going to make sure to give him the basketball and we expect him to be a big player for us.”

On a relatively young team loaded with NBA talent including his Timberwolves teammate Anthony Bennett, Wiggins acknowledges his leadership role. Mexico represents a chance to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics, so he has to step up, the future is now.

“I believe (I have a leadership role),” Wiggins said. “I believe a lot of the stuff that I do is to lead by example.

“I want to win. I believe with all the talent we have got, I believe we are the best team. We just got to go out there and fight. I think we were the last team to get together, so we got to work hard in practice and get the chemistry good and go out there and give it our all.”

Team Canada does have a few players with international experience, however, the guy with the biggest international and professional reputation has taken a management role, not that this has kept former two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash on the sidelines during training camp. Wiggins does have someone he can talk to who has been on this stage before with an opportunity to take his team to the Olympics.

“I’ve seen (Steve Nash) a couple of times over the summer time,” Wiggins said. “I’ve been able to ask him questions. I played the international game a couple of times when I was younger. I kind of know what to expect, but not fully at this level of competition, so I am looking forward to it. Our team is full of youth. I think that is going to be our biggest negative factor, but it’s a positive too.”

Wiggins will get help adjusting to this level of international play from some of teammates as well. This will be point guard Cory Joseph’s third trip to the FIBA Americas tournament with the Senior Men’s National Team and both Andrew Nicholson and Brady Heslip were big contributors in 2013. Kelly Olynyk played at FIBA Americas in 2011 and there are several other players with international experience that Triano is counting on to expedite the learning process for his FIBA Americas rookies.

However, there is no ignoring the impact a talent like Wiggins can have on a team. It might not be fair to put the burden of Team Canada’s success or failure on the shoulders of such a young player, but that is the reality every superstar player faces. He will be leaned on. Fortunately, he’ll have a lot of help.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

Tristan Thompson - fuzzy

Still A Chance Tristan Thompson Could Play For Canada

The window may be closing with the FIBA Americas 2015 tournament set to open on August 31st in Mexico, however, there is still a glimmer of a chance that Cleveland Cavaliers free agent power forward Tristan Thompson could play for Team Canada’s Senior Men’s National Team.

“The window on that is closing now just because of the timelines and our ability, if something did happen, to try and secure insurance would be difficult, getting permission from whatever team he signs with would be difficult also,” said Team Canada head coach Jay Triano. “I would think that the window is closing, but I love the fact that he is here. I love the fact that he shows an interest in these guys as he always has. He has been a big part of our program.”

Thompson is a restricted free agent and it looked like he had a deal done to re-sign with the Cavaliers in early July, but things stalled and haven’t moved since. Unless Thompson’s contract situation gets resolved very quickly, it is going to be too late for Team Canada.

“He has been here two or three times now,” Triano said. “He gets his work done before we get on the floor. He is staying ready. He’s a pro and he has always been and he’s been a part of this program and he is friends with all these guys.”

Thompson has been Canada’s best big man over the past two summers and averaged a double-double at FIBA Americas 2013, however, this year the Canadians have substantially better depth up front. The Magic’s Andrew Nicholson returns with help from the Celtics Kelly Olynyk, the Mavericks Dwight Powell, the Timberwolves Anthony Bennett and the Lakers Robert Sacre. So, even if the glimmer of hope fades out over the next few days, Team Canada is well stocked with talented big men.

“He is still going to be part of this program in the future,” Triano said. “It’s just unfortunate we are not going to be able to use him this summer.”

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

Cory Joseph scrum 2015Raptors Cory Joseph Leads Canada’s Best Men’s Basketball Team Ever

“We’ve got the most talent we’ve ever had in Canada in a gymnasium at one time, it’s great,” Triano said.

Jonas Valanciunas by Robertas Dačkus with permission (2)

Jonas Valanciunas To Miss Friendly Game Versus Turkey

Lithuania plays the first of three Friendly exhibition games in three days at what is called the Huawei Cup on Monday, but Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas wasn’t registered for the match and will miss the game.

JV injuredThe concern in Toronto is an apparent groin injury Valanciunas suffered on Wednesday in a Friendly against Austria, however, his team insists “the decision not the register (him) has nothing to do with Valanciunas’ physical condition – the player is completely healthy and ready to play sports.” per basketnews.lt

A player missing a friendly exhibition match at this point in the Lithuanian National team preparations for Eurobasket 2015 wouldn’t normally mean much and it will mean even less if Valanciunas plays in the next two games – that’s if he plays. It’s hard to get a good read on the situation from North America.

 

 

Greivis Vasquez styling

Greivis Vasquez Decision Leaves Venezuela With No NBA players

Former Toronto Raptors backup point guard Greivis Vasquez has told the local media that he will not play for Venezuela at the FIBA Americas tournament in Mexico. This leaves them with no NBA players on the roster according to FIBA.

The team’s lone NBA player, Greivis Vasquez, has said to the country’s media that he is not going to play, thus passing on a chance to try and lead his Venezuela into the Olympics.

Canada faces off against Venezuela on September 3rd in Mexico and this was to be the first head-to-head game between Vasquez and his replacement on the Raptors Cory Joseph. A taste and tease for Raptors fans that might just confirm President and General Manager Masai Ujiri made the right move this summer by trading Vasquez for the salary cap space needed to sign Joseph.

Also, Vasquez was the the example used by Team Canada head coach Jay Triano to illustrate how his team’s depth should be able to overcome the opposition in Mexico.

“When you think about team like Venezuela, if we play them on let’s say game 8 out of 9 days or 10 days,” Triano said. “We hope that Vasquez has had to play 38 minutes a game, whereas our guys have played 20 minutes a game and we’re fresh and we’re ready to go.”

Well, that’s a match up Team Canada doesn’t have to worry about anymore. Canada currently has 8 players who played in the NBA last season on their roster.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

Cory Joseph scrum 2015Raptors Cory Joseph Leads Canada’s Best Men’s Basketball Team Ever

 “We’ve got the most talent we’ve ever had in Canada in a gymnasium at one time, it’s great,” Triano said. “Some of the guys have been through the process for three years. Everyone is still just trying to fit in. Our pool of players is deep. We have the best players in camp in here right now. It’s exciting, but we have a long way to go as far as winning international games.”

 

 

Cory Joseph 2015

Raptors Cory Joseph Leads Canada’s Best Men’s Basketball Team Ever

Canada Basketball’s Senior Men’s National Team (SMNT) opened training camp in Toronto for the 2015 FIBA Americas tournament that starts later this month in Mexico led by their young veteran point guard from the Toronto Raptors Cory Joseph. While not every player Head Coach Jay Triano would like to be there is available, this will be the best SMNT ever assembled.

“We’ve got the most talent we’ve ever had in Canada in a gymnasium at one time, it’s great,” Triano said. “Some of the guys have been through the process for three years. Guys like Melvin Ejim, Brady Heslip, Phil Scrubb. Other guys have bits and pieces of two years. Olynyk has been at this for two years. Everyone is still just trying to fit in. Our pool of players is deep. We have the best players in camp in here right now. It’s exciting, but we have a long way to go as far as winning international games.”

The 23-year-old Joseph has the most international tournament experience of the new crop of players representing Canada. Joseph represented Canada at the 2011 and 2013 FIBA Americas tournaments and he was the undisputed leader in Venezuela two summers ago, along with significant contributions from Tristan Thompson and Andrew Nicholson.

Canada went 4-4 in Caracas, but had three heartbreaking loses in a row to miss the semi-finals and fail to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Spain. Joseph averaged a team leading 16.1 points and 4.4 assists plus a team second best 5.5 rebounds. Nicholson was second in scoring with 15 points per game and Thompson averaged 11.6 points and 10 boards.

Joseph attributes some of his international success to his NBA club’s style of play as head coach Gregg Popovich’s Spurs share the ball in the extreme. A backup point guard playing behind six-time All-Star Tony Parker, Joseph started 19 games in the Spurs 2014 Championship season and 14 games last year. Now with the Toronto Raptors, Joseph learned a lot from his four years in San Antonio.

“He is our starting point guard,” Triano confirmed. “He is the guy we are going to lean on to run this team. He did a great job for us last year when we were overseas playing 11 (exhibition) games in Europe. He understands the international game better. He is getting better. He is a big part of what we are doing and we expect a lot. We expect him to be the floor general.”

The sixteen man roster at Team Canada’s training camp includes eight current NBA players, three players with some NBA recent exposure, four non-NBA professionals and one player about to start college:

Cory Joseph, Toronto Raptors
Anthony Bennett, Minnesota Timberwolves
Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA Rookie of the Year)
Andrew Nicholson, Orlando Magic
Kelly Olynyk, Boston Celtics
Dwight Powell, Dallas Mavericks
Robert Sacre, Los Angeles Lakers
Nik Stauskas, Philadelphia 76ers
Sim Bhullar, Sacramento Kings (10-day contract last season)
Brady Heslip, Minnesota Timberwolves (camp invite last season)
Melvin Ejim, Orlando Magic (current training camp invite)
Aaron Doornekamp, Braunschweig, Germany
Carl English, Athens, Greece
Olivier Hanlan, Zalgiris, Lithuania
Phil Scrubb, Athens, Greece
Jamal Murray, University of Kentucky (rookie)

The obvious hole in the lineup from the 2013 FIBA Americas is Thompson. Thompson is unavailable because the Cavaliers power forward hasn’t signed a new NBA contract for next season yet. Fortunately, the Celtics young big man Olynyk, who played for Canada in 2011 but missed 2013, is available this summer. Also, the Mavericks sophomore power forward Powell and the Lakers center Sacre (entering his fourth NBA season) is in camp.

This is a very talented, but very young group of players and they will be facing veteran teams in Mexico with years of international experience. However, they came close to making it to the medal round last time and this team is undoubtedly much better.

“Our strength is our youth,” Triano said. “And our weakness is out youth. We have to use it to our advantage. We have make sure to turn it to a positive. We have energy and the way we approach every single game. We are infants as far as the international game is concerned.”

The best from Team Canada remains in the future, however, they were almost good enough two years ago led by Joseph and this year’s team will bring that experience plus a whole lot more raw talent with them. Expectations are high, the top two teams plus Brazil qualify for the 2016 Olympics and the Canadians are planning to be in Rio next summer.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

Jonas Valanciunas by Robertas Dačkus with permission (1)

Lithuania Ranked 4th Heading Into Eurobasket 2015

The very early power rankings for the top National teams heading into Eurobasket 2015 has the historically very competitive Lithuania ranked 4th behind Spain, Serbia and France.

Pau Gasol will be leading Spain once again. Serbia won Silver at the 2014 World Cup and looks to field an even stronger team than before. France will be led by Tony Parker.

Lithuania won a friendly against Australia easily without several of their star players. The Toronto Raptors Jonas Valanciunas has yet to arrive in camp for his National team.

“When Jonas Valanciunas enters the team, those figures should improve even further,” Coach Kazlauskas added.

European teams generally play a full slate of friendly exhibition games throughout the month of August in preparation for the tournament which gets underway on September 5th at venues located in Montpellier, Berlin, Zagreb, and Riga.

Lithuania plays in Riga against the Ukraine in Group D on day 1 of Eurobasket 2015. The other teams in Group D include of Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia and hosts Latvia. Lithuania should be heavily favored to win their Group.

 

 

 

 

 

Head Coach Jay Triano close up

It’s Pan Am Silver For Canada Basketball

Team Canada looked like they had never been in a really big game before and Brazil just did what they had been doing all tournament, so it was Pan Am Silver for the team that had never won a medal at this tournament. Brazil has now taken home Gold in four of the past five events.

After an earlier win over an Argentine team that has been the bane of Team Canada in previous international events, head coach Jay Triano was as excited as he ever has been during international competition.

However, that was nothing after coming from behind to defeat Team USA in the semi-finals and advance to the Gold Medal Game. That win, any win, over any American team was a long time coming for Canada’s Senior Men’s National Team. In the end, it was a very proud Coach Triano watching his team get their medals.

Canada was the top scoring team in the tournament, but it was obvious being in the Finals got to them. They gripped the ball too tight and rushed their shots in the first half, shooting 5-19 in the first quarter and 3-16 in the second. A frustrated Andrew Nicholson, who had become Canada’s go-to-guy for a bucket, picked up his third personal foul at the end of the half, then a quick foul in the third quarter that he made worse by adding a technical foul that took him out of the game. Under FIBA rules a tech counts as a personal and five fouls ends your night. It seemed like everything that could go wrong was going wrong for Canada.

Brazil felt no such pressure and shot 19-31 to start the game as they built up a 48-29 lead heading into the half. Brazil was up by 25 points in the third quarter just after Nicholson got himself ejected. At this point everything the Brazilians threw up at the basket was going in and Canada could do nothing right.

Then, possibly in desperation or maybe just for the experience,  Triano turned to the youngsters Dillon Brooks and Jamal Murray for a Team Canada version of small ball and to some amazement, it started to work. Canada’s energy level on the court went up, everyone was hustling and diving for balls and Brazil’s torrid scoring pace slowed. There were even signs of Brazil looking out of sorts as Canada closed to within 6 points while two Brazilians fouled out including their star scorer Vitor Benite.

Unfortunately for Canada, the deep and experienced Brazilians regained their composure, stopped Canada’s run and rebuilt their double-digit lead. For about two minutes it looked like Canada was going to pull off the improbable comeback, but then it was over and Brazil managed last five minutes until they became Gold. The final score was Brazil 86, Canada 71.

This was a tune-up tournament for Canada and most of the participants. The big show with all the NBA stars in attendance is happening in Mexico at the FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying tournament later this summer. However, it was an important learning experience, confidence booster and tryout for several of Coach Triano’s players with limited international tournament experience and even less success at these events as reported by Canada Basketball.

“Brazil is a good team and they played well today,” said Canada Head Coach, Jay Triano. “I think we grew up throughout the tournament and throughout this game. I’m glad that we showed some fight to get back in the game.”

“It was a great experience playing with these guys,” said Murray. “We’re still very proud of what we did, even though this not the final goal that we wanted.”

Murray was the surprise of the tournament. The 18-year-old came off the bench, but was one of Canada’s best offensive players with a flair for both scoring and creating for others. It is going to nearly impossible for Triano to leave him off the roster going to Mexico.

Canada vs Brazil Gold Medal Game boxscore

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.