Where do I begin?
Flights are always the best time for me to reflect, and so here we go…
I’m currently on my way back from beautiful Crete, Greece (Heraklion) for the FIBA U19 World Championships with Team Canada on the same flight.
I just finished watching them compete to a fifth place finish in the World.
Take that in.
I can tell you first-hand that the Canada Basketball coaching, admin and support staff were all in it to win it, and disappointed about their loss to Croatia, which was in the balance and very winnable.
That said, they are very proud of this team’s accomplishments…and they should be.
Canada finished 5th, making it their best result ever at the World championships, for the U19 level.
Canadian Basketball History
However, it must be noted that it’s not Canada’s best finish ever at the Junior level—that feat would belong to Coach Dave Crook and the U21 National team that lead Canada to a bronze medal in 2005, while defeating the USA, and ultimately Australia in the championships.
Levon Kendall and Garry Gallimore lead this group.
In order to better understand and mould our future, we must know our past. Salute to the 2005 group.
Now back to the present.
Canada went 6-1 in Greece, and in the last two years are 12-2 against international competition at the junior level.
This group did not have Canada’s best talent present, but:
1) Neither did any other country
2) Canada was still loaded with talent in relation to the world, which speaks to the depth in Canadian Basketball
When you put things into perspective, the coaching staff did a very good job of bringing this team together, and the players competed with passion all the way to the quarter finals of the World championships, where they lost to Croatia 84-71 in a very winnable game.
Canada was beat in every statistical category. Simply put, the ball was not dropping & credit Croatia for their relentless interior attack. They play with great skill and poise, and have three legit PRO (potential NBA players).
In other words, After cruising to the quarter-finals, Canada had a poor offensive showing in a grind it out game against Croatia 84-71–the team that took USA to overtime and almost beat in the championship game.
What I’m trying to say here with all this, is that Canada has climbed one step closer to being solidified as an international power.
For the record, we are not there yet, but knocking on the door.
When the opposition comes to compete against Canada, they come correct; CAN has earned that respect.
Years ago, Canada went from losing by 20+ against the best, to now consistently competing against the powers—the likes of USA, Croatia, Spain, etc.
Dillon Brooks, Justin Jackson have established themselves as NBA prospects worth tracking for league scouts.
Corey Johnson had scouts calling him arguably the best shooter at the World championships.
Even without the likes of Jamal Murray, among others on this Canadian roster, they still managed to excel while having Jackson, Brooks and Johnson step up.
But it was far more than a three-man attack.
It’s very important for those reading and for each individual on this team to understand that they were all a part of something bigger than any one individual, that’s what a team is.
On every successful team, there are only a couple “star” players, and the rest are role players. Without role players stepping up, you cannot win at a high level.
It’s important that players take pride in their role, whether that be rebounding, blocking shots, shooting or locking up defensively.
There are two star players on this team—Dillon Brooks & Justin Jackson which receive the most pub, however I want to recognize everybody else on this roster for their contributions, and to urge each to take this international experience and use it to further grow their individual games and continue to excel in their own respective basketball careers.
If you take a look at the statistics below, you will see a very balanced sheet, both from a minutes and production standpoint – balance is what is necessary at the international level, which is a test of stamina, just as much as it is strategy, talent and passion…if not more.
Stay tuned for more photo and video coverage of the FIBA U19 World championships on @NorthPoleHoops