Canada’s Senior Mens National Team (SMNT) is young, so young in fact that General Manager Steve Nash says, “Guys that have been in the NBA for two or three years, those are veterans on this team.” Cory Joseph is one of those veterans and Team Canada is looking to him for leadership as they head out on an 11 game exhibition series in Europe that starts on Thursday in Slovenia.
Last summer Joseph was a key player for Canada at the FIBA Americas tournament and he showed his potential to takeover games at this level by leading Canada past Brazil in the preliminary round scoring 20 points in a blowout victory.
Joseph has played for the NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs over the past three seasons which makes him one of the more experienced players on this summer’s roster.
Cory Joseph audio:
“Definitely try to translate what we did in San Antonio over here,” Joseph said. “Definitely try to bring that same hard work.
“I have learned a lot over my three years at San Antonio. I made great strides in bettering my game and just being professional. They are complete professionals. They take care of their bodies. I’ve learned about that a lot this year, just taking of my body, preparing myself for the game.”
As a point guard and one of the more experienced players, Joseph will be carrying a heavy leadership burden that was not expected of him in San Antonio. However, he feels ready for the role and those games last summer at the FIBA Americas will help a lot.
“I definitely put a lot on my shoulders as a point guard and as a leader,” Joseph said. “I have to lead this team. I feel that I can be that extension of the coach on the court and I am just trying to lead this team to get Ws.
“I am comfortable in the role. I have been doing it all my life in other programs.”
It’s likely that one of the reasons Joseph doesn’t feel as uncomfortable with the international game as other NBA players is how the Spurs like to play and the makeup of that team. The Spurs have a strong international cast of players and ball movement designed to breakdown zone defenses that is second nature.
“(FIBA) is a different style of game, but Spurs kind of play an international style of the game, so not much difference for us,” Joseph explained. “I can’t really explain it, but it’s different. They can just pack in the paint, there is no three-second defensive call, so you have to learn how to attack in different ways. You have to learn how to move the ball and get them on their feet and still be able to get into the paint.”
This summer is all about gaining experience for Team Canada after falling short a year ago and failing to qualify for the World Cup in Spain. Instead of tournament play, the Canadians will have to develop their players over a series of exhibition games that other teams are using as a tune-up for the tournament that starts at the end of August.
“We know that we have a lot of talent, but we haven’t done anything yet, so have to be able to put it together,” Joseph said. “Last year we went down there and didn’t do as well as we wanted to, so we kind of got set back and now we have to get serious. We have to qualify for the Olympics and do well because that is what everybody is expecting of us and that is what we are expecting of us.”
To qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, the SMNT will have to win a spot at a qualifying tournament next summer, so there is a lot of basketball yet to be played by this pool of players selected to represent Canada. However, as Joseph points out, don’t worry, we’re young.
“I’m 22-years-old, you make me sound old,” Joseph said. “I’m a young guy. I’m in good shape. I take care of my body – make sure I sleep well, eat well and I’ll be fine. I’m young.”
It seems like all of Team Canada is young and maybe that is what it will take to fight their way into a spot at the 2016 Olympics.
Steve Nash Excited To Mentor Team Canada This Summer
“We have a very young team, so guys that have been in the NBA for two or three years, those are veterans on this team,” Nash said. “We are going to have to become a team that really comes together, has a great bond and leads together and pushes each other to get better and demands a lot of each other, but at the same time supports one another. We have to build a winning culture here and this is a new project.”