Canada basketball on the rise

Get outta here/ Fernando Llano, Associated Press

Get outta here/ Fernando Llano, Associated Press

Despite loss, future still bright for Canadian ballers

Seriously, how good did Canada look at the FIBA Americas tournament? They rolled through most of the competition and finished the tourney with a record of 8-2. The only catch? One of those two losses was in the most important game in a very long time for Canada basketball, and it inevitably cost Canada a berth in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, which would have been Canada’s first Olympic appearance since 2000. The worst part isn’t even that they lost and missed this chance at the Olympics; the worst part is that the referee decided the game with a phantom call with point three seconds left, in a tie game, that gave Venezuela a free throw for the win. Cory Joseph went on record saying that they never should have let it get to that point, which is true because Canada had already beaten Venezuela once in the tournament by twenty points, but that doesn’t change the fact that, as a ref, you can’t make a call like that unless it is a no doubt, obvious call. Let them battle it out in overtime.

Hope isn’t all lost for Canada, though. They have one more chance to qualify next year in the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament, which is an eighteen team tournament, with squads divided into groups of six, with the winner of each group qualifying for the Olympics. This past tournament was a great chance for Canada to qualify, but I have complete faith that Canada will have an equally good chance of qualifying from the next tournament. The main reason for that is growth. For one, team growth. Every time a national team plays together, they get more comfortable with their new teammates and start building chemistry. Also, they will have a chance to add a couple of studs to the lineup, in the Cavaliers Tristan Thompson, and the Milwaukee Bucks’ Tyler Ennis. Normally, growing together as a team is the most important thing for national teams to be successful, but in this case I think individual player growth will be the best thing for Team Canada.

Canada’s oldest player at the FIBA Americas was just thirty years old, and he wasn’t even one of the nine NBA players. Canada’s best player, Andrew Wiggins, is just twenty-years-old with only one NBA season under his belt. The same goes for most of the team too. Kelly Olynyk, two years pro; Anthony Bennett, two years pro; Nik Stauskas, one year pro; Melvin Ejim, one year pro. Even their most veteran player, Cory Joseph, has less than five years in the NBA. I truly feel that this next season is going to do wonders for all of these players’ development. When they show up for the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament in the summer of 2016, with the players mentioned before added to the team, they will roll right through it and, at long last, qualify for the Olympics. Another possible bonus that could come from them qualifying at the very last moment is that they could very well carry momentum from the qualifying tournament right on through to Rio, and who knows maybe they can even make a huge splash.

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