Canada Expects Wiggins, Ennis, Bennett in 2015 Olympic Qualifying, Targeting Gold in 2020

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NEW YORK -- Canadian men’s national team coach Jay Triano expects Andrew Wiggins, Tyler Ennis, Anthony Bennett and the country’s talented young core of basketball players to compete in Olympic qualifying in 2015.

But he says the big payoff with this group might not come until the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“The future’s going to be great,” Triano, an assistant with the Portland Trail Blazers, told SheridanHoops.com on Wednesday following a 94-90 win over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. ”But it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s not going to happen at the next Olympics, it might be the following Olympics.”

In the immediate future, Triano expects Wiggins, the likely No. 1 or 2 pick in June’s draft; Ennis, projected as a top-10 pick in 2014; and Bennett, the No. 1 pick in 2013, to help anchor the team during Olympic qualifying in 2015.

Jay_Triano“Yeah, they played in our junior program in the past and they’re in the pipeline to become national team members and seem very keen and interested in it,” he said.

When the four wild cards for this summer’s FIBA World Cup (formerly FIBA World Championships) in Spain were announced Saturday, Canada was left out, meaning it will have to qualify in the summer of 2015 for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

By that point, Wiggins (Kansas), Ennis (Syracuse) and fellow Canadian Nik Stauskas (Michigan) all will likely be in the NBA. All three are projected in the top 20 picks of this year’s draft by DraftExpress.com.

“I just think the young kids that are in college right now, we’re seeing a lot of progress in how they can play,” Triano said. “We got a guy at Michigan, Syracuse, and Andrew obviously. But those are guys who have been a part of our national team program and  and they will be a part of the program as we continue.”

Together with current NBA players Bennett, Andrew Nicholson, Kelly Olynyk, Tristan Boston CelticsThompson and Cory Joseph,, Canada should have a strong core going forward toward 2020 in Tokyo.

Last summer, Wiggins, Ennis, Bennett and Olynyk did not participate at the FIBA Americas Tournament in Venezuela, where Canada failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup in Spain.

Wiggins opted to get acclimated at Kansas prior to his freshman year. Ennis, Wiggins’ longtime running buddy with the CIA Bounce AAU team, played with the Canadian U-19s in Prague. Bennett was dealing with a shoulder injury. And Olynyk opted out.

Without them, Nicholson, Thompson, Joseph and Baylor guard Brady Heslip led the way.

“Last year we had some bigs,” Triano said. “We had Tristan Thompson and Andrew Nicholson and Joel Anthony. We were fine up front, we needed a little help in the backourt and we’re gonna get that now.”

Triano pointed to the likely additions of Ennis – who has guided Syracuse to a 22-0 record and the No. 1 ranking – and Stauskas.

“It would’ve been nice to have Olynyk, especially because he’s a guy that played in the international game more than most of these guys,” Triano added. “He’s been on the national team for years. So that would’ve helped us.”

Bennett, meantime, has struggled mightily since being chosen first overall by the Cavaliers last June. He missed the FIBA Americas Tournament and NBA summer league because of shoulder surgery and has endured a brutal rookie year.

230px-Anthony_Bennett_by_Jeremy_Rincon“He was with us last summer,” Triano said. “He obviously couldn’t play because of his shoulder and he didn’t travel but he was with us in training camp.

“He’s a young kid. I think he got behind in the NBA because he didn’t play in the summer league and it’s tough to get any confidence and get practice reps. But he’s going to be a part of our program in the future as well.”

And Triano believes that future can be extremely bright.

“If they play and play together, I think the potential for our country to do really well is really high,” he said.

RELATED: WHY THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS WILL END UP WITH ANDREW WIGGINS

Adam Zagoria of Zags Blog covers the future stars of the NBA for SheridanHoops.com. His columns appear Saturdays. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamZagoria.

NBA Has Record 92 International Players, But Three All-American Teams

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stern-vegasWant to know what David Stern’s legacy will be? Just take a look at NBA rosters on Opening Night.

More than 20 years ago – when he was a relative pup as a commissioner – Stern worked with Russ Granik, USA Basketball and FIBA to clear the way for NBA players to play in the Olympics.

That led to the creation of the “Dream Team,” which, among others, featured the holy trinity of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. Team USA won the 1992 Olympic gold medal, but more importantly, introduced the world to the NBA.

Tweet of the Day: Pau Gasol’s everlasting support of Spain

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Gasol

The Spanish Olympic committee couldn’t have elected a better spokesperson than Lakers forward Pau Gasol. The seven-footer has been actively promoting his country in an attempt to land the 2020 games.

In a battle with Tokyo and Istanbul to host sport’s biggest event, Madrid fell short after the International Olympic Committee selected Tokyo in secret voting as the winning city.

Gasol was an instrumental part of Madrid’s bid over the past week but was defeated Saturday.

 

Although the 33-year-old wouldn’t play in 2020 Olympics, Gasol attempted to set a home stage for his brother Marc and point guard Ricky Rubio who are both poised to become leaders of the team.

Gasol has a long list of achievements with the Spanish national team: Gold at the FIBA Europe Under-18 and Under-19 Championships, Gold at the EuroBasket 2011, MVP of the 2006 FIBA World Championship and Silver at the 2012 Olympics.

We know Gasol is a class act, even though his hard work came up short, he congratulated the winners.

 

Spain hasn’t hosted the Olympics since 1992 when Barcelona had the summer games.

The economic impact for the country would have been huge according to Gasol.

Spanish sport and the people of Madrid need the boost the Olympic Games would provide, and Madrid is ready to face this challenge. We are a city that is prepared with a responsible bid plan that will help develop sport far into the future.

Now the Lakers star will turn his attention to training camp which opens in several weeks.

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Brett Poirier is a contributor to Sheridan Hoops.

Tweet of the Day: Steve Nash taking in some Canada Basketball

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Steve Nash took on a daunting task last year when he agreed to become general manager of Canada’s Senior Men’s basketball team, a club that hasn’t had Olympic podium success since the 1936 summer games in Berlin, Germany.

Steve Nash at a press conference for Canada Basketball in 2012.

Steve Nash at a press conference for Canada Basketball in 2012.

Besides running Canada’s basketball operations, Nash also focuses the majority of his time at improving his game by training in facilities all over North America during the offseason.

So how does the 2-time MVP manage to monitor all of Canada’s top players?

He’s getting a start by watching a team practice in Toronto alongside Celtics rookie Kelly Olynyk.

Since joining the program, Nash hired Jay Triano as head coach and brought in a longtime friend, Rowan Barrett, to be assistant GM.

The team is currently working towards competing at the FIBA Americas Championships in Caracas, Venezuela later this month.

Basketball above the US border has been on the rise of late. The most gratifying moment for Canadian fans came at this year’s NBA draft, when Toronto native Anthony Bennett was selected first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers, making history as the first ever Canadian player selected with the number one pick.

After being named GM last May, he quickly showed his excitement to begin.

“I’m thrilled to be able to take on this challenge, we have lots of work to do and I’m excited to get started.”

There’s no doubt, Canada Basketball is on the rise. Currently with 11 players in the NBA, the country is exceeding all expectations. And then, there’s this kid named Andrew Wiggins, who may be all it takes to make Canada the next powerhouse in world basketball competition.

Hubbard: Remembering Jordan at 50 – Fun Behind the Scenes

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While attempting to uncover a certain fact about Michael Jordan, an extended Google search proved futile. The fact would be wonderful to know because it would be a way of tormenting Jordan, and that’s always been fun to do because that’s what he’s always done to everyone else.

In searching the internet, however, I couldn’t find out what time Jordan was born 50 years ago today. I’d like to know because if it was more than a few seconds after midnight on Feb. 17, 1963, that would mean Jordan was not the first baby born on that day.

And if Michael is not first, it absolutely destroys him.

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