Friday, 22 June 2007

Canada's Senior Team Update after Oshawa Camp

The recent Canada Basketball training camp at Durham College in Oshawa which ended earlier this week was successful by all accounts as the program gets ready to reassemble again in mid-July for the Pan-Am Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. The eight team tournament, which begins on July 25th and features 5 teams ranked in FIBA's current World Top 20, breaks up into two preliminary round groups with the top 2 finishers in each group facing off in the semi-finals on July 28th followed by the championship game on July 29th. Canada (#15) has been placed in Group B with the host Brazilians (#17), Puerto Rico (#13) and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Group A consists of U.S. (#1), Argentina (#2), Panama and Uruguay. All 8 nations represented at the Pan-Am Games will also be battling it out at the FIBA Americas Olympic qualifier in Las Vegas in late August. Like many international events, games are played on an almost daily basis so Canada could play on 5 consecutive days (3 round robin games followed by semi-finals and finals). We hope to provide a more thorough preview as the tournament draws nearer.

Among the stronger performing Senior-team level players from the camp was 6'6" Jermaine Bucknor (Edmonton, AL), who looks to have improved dramatically since last summer after a year played professionally in Poland. Bucknor, who is only 24 years old, has been part of the national program for several summers and appears to have a bright future with the Senior team going forward. We've already made mention that 6'5" Olu Famutimi (Toronto, ON) was impressive with his smooth, athletic style and, on top of the obvious talent he has shown, more than one coach commented on how coachable and how much of a great kid Olu is. 6'10" Vlad Kuljanin, another Torontonian with a couple of summers of National team program experience under his belt, may have been the most impressive big man in camp and continues to impress with his array of skills. Another big, burly post, 6'11" Sean Denison (pictured - Nelson, B.C.) who recently graduated from Santa Clara University (Steve Nash's school) and in his final year was named co-winner of the West Coast Conference's Player-of-the-Year, showed observers at camp that he has solid big man skills both in and around the paint and out on the perimeter. Denison showed a consistent knowledge of how to play and will push for a spot in the mix this summer. Also up front, 6'8" Jesse Young (Peterborough, ON), another National team veteran who has played professionally in Europe for several years but unfortunately missed this season nursing a serious foot injury, looks to be rounding back into physical and mental form as he improved with every practice. In the back court, we've already mentioned Jermaine "Rock" Anderson (pictured) from Toronto, playing the lead guard throughout camp and the work of 6'4" Ryan Bell (Ottawa, ON), with his combination of length, quickness and game management and 6'2" Osvaldo Jeanty (Ottawa, ON) who can always be counted on to play his best when it matters most. Another CIS star, 6'7" Aaron Doornekamp, added about 10 lbs. of muscle after the end of the CIS season and this added physical maturity has allowed him to further diversify his offensive game, especially in the low post with his back to the basket. 6'5" Andy Rautins had a solid camp shooting the basketball which he did as well as anyone in camp. When the team next assembles on 14th of July at Humber College in Toronto, expect most if not all of these names and others to be there preparing for Brazil, possibly augmented by any number of others who could potentially suit up for Canada at either or both of the Pan-Am Games and Las Vegas including 6'5" Carl English, 6'5" Denham Brown, 6'5" Rowan Barrett, 6'10" Levon Kendall, 6'7" Juan Mendez, 6'11" Samuel Dalembert , 6'8" Rans Brempong and 6'10" Nate Doornekamp or others. Best of luck to the Senior Men as they endeveour to return Canada Basketball to the Olympics in 2008.

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