Wednesday, 4 July 2007

U19's edge Guelph All-Stars in scrimmage

In the first of two scrimmage-type exhibitions this week, Canada's Jr. National team withstood a 40 point effort from former Bradley Brave James Gillingham (Guelph, ON) to edge a group of primarily Guelph-based NCAA/CIS players 75-74 before a sparse gathering at the University of Guelph's W.F. Mitchell Athletic Center. 6'8" Scott Brittain (pictured) gave the Jr. Nats the lead for good with under 10 seconds remaining with a shot in the lane, negating a one-point Stars lead put up by Gillingham, who went a perfect 3 for 3 from the line after being fouled on a three-point attempt with 12 seconds remaining. The Jr. Nats then did a nice job defending on the final possession as the Stars cleared out for Gillingham and he missed at the buzzer. The game, played under FIBA rules, allowed Jr. Nats Head Coach Greg Francis and his troops to experience a more physical brand of basketball against stronger, more experienced opponents. The Stars gave the Jr. Nats multiple looks defensively including several different zones and ran sets against their defense to mix things up as much as possible and try to simulate what the Jr. Nats could see in Serbia beginning next week.

The collection of primarily Guelph-based current and former NCAA & CIS players included former Canadian National team member Gillingham, a strong, aggressive 6'4" wing, 6'9" J.R. Bailey (Toronto, ON/University of Guelph), a solid CIS post player, 6'4" Nick Pankerichan (Hamilton, ON/University of Guelph), another strong, physical guard and 6'0" wing Charles Ageymang (Toronto, ON/University of Guelph). Stars coach Chris O'Rourke had 10 players at his disposal but basically played 7 with any consistency. Others who got significant time for the Stars included 6'4" sharpshooter Jay Mott (Burlington, ON/University of Guelph), 6'2" freshman-to-be Mike Patrella (Brantford, ON/University of Guelph), who just completed his high school career at Brantford St. John's and 5'11" Kerchel Carter (Toronto, ON/Henry Carr H.S. & Laurenburg Prep). Patrella saw his first real action against top quality opposition with some of his teammates-to-be and impressed with his ability to defend, take care of the ball and his overall mental and physical toughness.

Among the Jr. Nats who produced solid performances were 6'6" Jon House, who came alive in the second half after a slow start, 6'8" Brittain, who continues to play consistent basketball at both ends and made the big shot at the end, 6'2" Chretien Lukusa, (pictured) who showed his solid skills defending the ball and the wing, 6'11" Max Craig-Zuyderfhoff, who continues to grow as an offensive player in the post, 6'7" Boris Bakovic, who has a maturing offensive game and is playing with confidence, and 6'5" Alwayne "Always" Bigby, a big, athletic guard who is a physical defender and rebounder in the mould of St. FX star and Canadian national team program veteran Garry Gallimore.

The Jr. Nats, who broke camp in Oshawa in mid-June with 16 players, have cut down to 13 players, with 6'8" Aaron Chapman from Belleville Nicholson H.S., who is headed to Carleton in the fall, definitely out of the FIBA U19 World's with a hip flexor injury. We hope to have the late breaking news on who remains in camp and then the final travelling roster when the team leaves for Serbia later this week. Canada, placed in Group C of the preliminary round of the 16 team tournament along with Nigeria, Turkey and Australia, opens up next Thursday, July 12th against Nigeria at 9:45 Eastern time.

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