Oh (No) Canada

I’m going to let you in on a secret that might totally blow my credibility as a basketball writer – I’m Canadian. For those of you who didn’t immediately switch to a different website, I’ll continue. Some Canadians do actually care about basketball. And for us that do care, the plight of our beloved Canadian National Team is a sore spot.

For those of you not keeping track at home, Canada has now lost four straight games at the FIBA Americas Championship. The chances of Canada qualifying for next year’s World Basketball Championship are slim to none (unless they pull off a miracle in next year’s playoff for a wildcard spot). None of this is a surprise to followers of Canadian basketball – the realistic among us realized from the start that the team’s chances of qualifying via the FIBA Americas Championship weren’t good.

There are several places you could point the blame for Canada’s continued dismal showing on the world stage – the infrastructure (almost non-existent), the coaching (inexperienced), the lack of passion for the sport in the country (hockey, hockey, hockey). But the real reason, in my not-so-humble opinion, is a lack of talent. Canada continually sends minor league talent to compete against the world’s best. And that just doesn’t cut it.

Say what you will about this year’s team being a cohesive unit that all get along with each other – chemistry is an important factor to winning. But without talent comparable to the competition, all the cohesiveness in the world won’t help you. I could get a bunch of friends of mine (if I had friends) to play with me and we’d have good chemistry, but we’d get slaughtered if we went up against the world’s best. Now while the Canadian National Team is a lot better than me and my friends (having played against/with former National Team players I have seen this firsthand), their talent level is still not anywhere near that of the top teams they are going up against.

This is not to say that Canada lacks top-level basketball talent. What I am saying is Canada’s top basketball talent never team up and play for the National Team together. Canada has four NBA players (not to mention one Canadian NBA head coach, Toronto’s Jay Triano, who Canada unceremoniously fired a few years back), yet the only one playing on this year’s team is Miami’s Joel Anthony, who is a solid defensive player but is in no way a go-to talent that Canada needs. Which seems to always be the case for Canada since Steve Nash stopped competing for his country – they are always lacking a go-to guy. Last go-around Samuel Dalembert was thrust into that role before he was booted from the team, but Dalembert isn’t much better suited as the centerpiece of a team as Anthony is. However, put Nash, Dalembert, Anthony and Jamaal Magloire on the roster, and you’ve got yourself a team to be reckoned with.
Other countries have deep enough talent reserves that if all their top guys don’t show up, they’ll still be competitive. Argentina is missing guys but they still have Luis Scola. Brazil is missing Nene but they still have Leandro Barbosa. Canada can’t afford to be missing three NBA players and still expect to compete on the world stage.

The solution is pretty simple – what Canada needs is a point guard who won’t be intimidated on the international stage, can be a go-to scorer while also setting up teammates, and will be a positive influence on the team. Anyone know of anybody that fits the bill?

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6 Responses to “Oh (No) Canada”

  1. Jeremy Says:

    i'd have to agree with much of what you say here, but i do think that Tyler Kepkay has been outplaying Jermaine at the point. Of course Nash would be the ideal PG, but he is getting quite old. If we hired Triano back, we might get Nash back. In a perfect world…
    PG – Steve Nash, Tyler Kepkay and Junior Cadougan (Ryan bell) 2G – Carl English, Andy Rautins, Olu Famitimi, Denham Brown 3G – Juan Mendez, Aaron Dornekamp 4- Levon K, Jesse Y.
    5- Joel Anthony, Sam Dalembert, Jamaal Magloire

  2. The Hoops Manifesto Says:

    All I ask is that they for once put their best squad together and see how they do. Other countries seem to be able to.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    There was a time when Nash was an active member of the national team (mid 90's to early 2000's), but then he quit. I tried looking for the source and couldn't find it, but I remember hearing that the reasons he gave were that playing international ball was taking a toll on his body and he was tired of making that sacrifice by carrying the team when so few of the other Canadian players were willing to do the same (guys like Rick Fox and Bill Wennington played in the NBA at the time but didn't play internationally). I would also love to see the best squad Canada can bring to the table, but as far as I know that has never happened in my lifetime and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

  4. The Hoops Manifesto Says:

    Nash also vowed after Jay Triano was fired as coach that he would never compete for Canada again.

  5. Teddy-the-Bear Says:

    You want to know the reason the Canadian team is playing like it is? Do you? Really? Do you really?
    Fine.
    Leo Rautins.

  6. The Hoops Manifesto Says:

    But of course shortly after I wrote this story the team qualified!

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