Today marks the beginning of a new era for not only Canada Basketball, but for basketball in this country as a whole.
Today we get to see the best Canada Basketball roster ever assembled vie for a spot in the summer Olympics, which if we succeed, will be the first time we have done so in 16 years.
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It is only fitting that we get to test our worth against Argentina, the only country to have won a gold medal in basketball, that wasn’t the USA, since NBA players have been allowed to participate in the Olympics back in 1992.
That Argentinian team that won it, featured NBA All-Stars Manu Ginobli and Luis Scola, and a hell of a lot of team chemistry. The US lacked that during the 2004 year, when they sent the gold standard of the “ME Team” in Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, and of course, head coach Larry Brown.
Argentina showed grit, passion, and fundamentals that left their opponents in a daze.
But times have changed.
The “golden generation” of players that have run through the Argentinian system have come and went.
Meanwhile Canada, a team that is led by a 20 year old NBA rookie of the year in Andrew Wiggins, has assembled a roster that has the most NBA content of any team in this FIBA America’s tournament.
I’ll say exactly what these Canadian players are thinking: They should win this tournament.
Jul 25, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Canada forward Anthony Bennett (10) dunks the ball against Brazil guard Larry Taylor (7) in the men
Tweet it, comment on it, it doesn’t matter. It is what their goal is, and it is what they are striving for.
No, it is not by sheer talent, this team should win. They have the makeup of hungry, young, competitors that want nothing more than to be better every day, and they have the physical tools to deal with the loose whistle that comes with the international game.
Take Anthony Bennett for example, a player who has not quite figured out the ticky tack play of the NBA.
His physical strength in the post, and love of contact, the very thing that made him such a tantalizing pick back in 2013, has given him a new sense of worth in the international game playing with Canada.
Or Brady Heslip, a player who thrived with Baylor in the NCAA, but is still waiting for the chance to show his worth in the NBA.
His teammates trust him, and he knows this system. It has allowed Heslip to be the dead eye shooter he had always been at the college level, and effortlessly translate that to the international game.
What I’m trying to say here is, that even the supposed “misfits” on this team that have yet to find individual success in their careers, are more than capable of helping this team to its ultimate goal.
Yes, they are a solid team, as Bennett said best a few days before leaving for the Tuto Marchand Cup: “This feels more like a family reunion than it does a training camp.”
Canada ended up going undefeated in that tournament, taking the best punches the likes of Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Argentina had to offer, and still came out on top.
That was a tune up, now they go for real today.
“this feels more like a family reunion than it does a training camp.” – Anthony Bennett
Expect Wiggins to dominate on the open floor. Expect Cory Jospeh to split the defence time and time again, and hand it off to the open shot. And expect Bennett to throw a few thunderous dunks down.
I’m not here today to talk about analysis and game strategies, there will be plenty of time for that in the next year, or even couple of days for that matter.
If you are a basketball fan in this country, it is time to do exactly as Toronto Blue Jay fans in this city are doing right now: sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.
Canada Basketball is about to give us one hell of a ride for better or worse in the next 365 days.
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