Roster Announced for FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers

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TORONTO, ON (November 17, 2017) – Canada Basketball is pleased to announce the 12-man roster for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers in Halifax and Dominican Republic.

“This is an exciting time and opportunity for basketball in our country and we’re thankful to begin our journey towards the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 next week in Halifax,” said head coach Roy Rana.

“Having the opportunity to represent your country is something most players only dream of. But to have the chance to do it at home, in front of friends, family and fellow Canadians is an honor we treasure. All the athletes in our pool have and are continuing to make a tremendous effort to be part of this journey and we are thankful and excited for this 12 that will represent all of us in Halifax and Dominican Republic.”

The Scotiabank Centre in Halifax will host the first Senior Men’s National Team home game as Canada opens the qualifying process on Friday, November 24, 2017 against Bahamas with tip-off scheduled for 8:15 pm AST.  Tickets for the event are on sale now through Ticket Atlantic.

Following Friday’s game, Canada will travel to Dominican Republic where tipoff is scheduled for Monday, November 27 at 7:00 PM ET.

2017 SMNT NOVEMBER WORLD CUP AMERICAS QUALIFIER ROSTER

Name Position Height Hometown Current Club
Joel Anthony Centre 6’9” Montreal, QC Free Agent
Anthony Bennett Forward 6’8” Toronto, ON Northern Arizona Suns (G-League)
Grandy Glaze Centre 6’7” Toronto, ON St. John’s Edge (NBL of Can)
Olivier Hanlan Guard 6’4” Aylmer, QC Austin Spurs (G-League)
Brady Heslip Guard 6’2” Burlington, ON Trabzonspor (Turkey)
Kaza Kajami-Keane Guard 6’1” Ajax, ON Raptors 905 (G-League)
Owen Klassen Centre 6’10” Kingston, ON PAOK (Greece)
Dyshawn Pierre Forward 6’6” Whitby, ON Banco di Srd (Italy)
Xavier Rathan-Mayes Guard 6’3” Scarborough, ON Westchester Knicks (G-League)
Phil Scrubb Guard 6’3” Richmond, B.C. Fraport SKY (Germany)
Thomas Scrubb Forward 6’6” Richmond, B.C. Scandone AV (Italy)
Marc Trasolini Centre 6’9” Vancouver, B.C. Hokkaido L. (Japan)
2017 SMNT STAFF LIST
Name Position Hometown
Roy Rana Head Coach Toronto, ON
Michael Meeks Assistant Coach Brampton, ON
Jack Sikma Assistant Coach Kankakee, Illinois
Dave Smart Assistant Coach Kingston, ON
Nathaniel Mitchell Assistant Coach Toronto, ON
James DePoe Team Manager Toronto, ON
David Grundman Team Manager Toronto, ON
Dr. John Philpott Team Doctor Miramichi, NB
Samuel Gibbs Athletic Therapist Toronto, ON
Jason Meehan Athletic Therapist Toronto, ON
Charlie Weingroff Strength and Conditioning Coach Newark, NJ
Dipesh Mistry Video Coordinator Markham, ON
Phil Jevtovic Performance Analyst Toronto, ON
Matt Walker Communications Manager Ancaster, ON
Peter Jensen Sports Psychologist Toronto, ON
2017 SMNT SCHEDULE
Item Dates Location
Training Camp November 20-November 23 Halifax, NS
Bahamas vs. Canada November 24 Halifax, NS
Travel to Dominican Republic November 25 Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic
Canada vs. Dominican Republic November 27 Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic
Training camp is closed to the public.  Media are invited to post-practice scrums on the following dates. Please RSVP to mwalker@basketball.ca.MEDIA AVAILABILITY

Tuesday, November 21 (Canada Games Centre)
10:00 a.m. Press Conference

Tuesday, November 21 (Canada Games Centre)
1:45 p.m. Gym Opens
2:00 p.m. Availability

Wednesday, November 22 (Canada Games Centre)
12:45 p.m. Gym Opens
1:00 p.m. Availability

Friday, November 24 (Scotiabank Centre)
1:45 p.m. Gym Opens
2:00 p.m. Availability

*All times are AST and subject to change.

Photo Courtesy Canada Basketball
Drew Ebanks
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Raptors 905 Win Yet Another Thriller Against Westchester

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Heading into the second game of a home-and-home set against the Westchester Knicks, the Raptors 905 were looking to get going offensively. The 905 had not scored over 100 points since dropping 106 in their season opening loss against the Grand Rapids Drive.

Boy, did they ever get going.

Lorenzo Brown led five 905 players that scored in double digits with 29 (20 in the second half), including a team high seven assists, as they beat the Knicks 112-109, for the second time in three days. The 905 improved to 3-2 and go over .500 for the first time this season.

“The guys trusted me to make big plays towards the end,” Brown said. ‘I put it upon myself to do that.”

Bruno Caboclo continued his solid start to the season as he filled up the stat sheet, finishing with a double-double (21 points, 10 rebounds) and had a team high three steals.

Kennedy Meeks was an instant spark plug off the bench as he took advantage inside, finishing with 18 points. Aaron Best chipped in with 14 on four triples while the hero from the previous game, Davion Berry, chipped in with 12.

It was the second straight game in which things came down to the last seconds.

“Guys are finding a way to execute. That’s huge for a young team that we have,” 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that were in college last year and still learning how to win at the pro level. When you have games like the one in New York and tonight, it builds your confidence up.”

Westchester (3-3) had six players in double figures, with Luke Kornet and Trey Burke scoring 24 points each. Nigel Hayes had 20 while Paul Watson had 13 points off the bench and Isaiah Hicks had 10.

Xavier Rathan-Mayes

Xavier Rathan-Mayes, of Markham, Ont., made his return to Canada and continues to make strides professionally as he transitions to a point guard. Rathan-Mayes was two rebounds away from finishing with a triple-double, as he had 12 points, eight rebounds, and a game high 14 assists, along with a game high four steals.

“He’s a really savvy point guard, one of my favourites, actually,” Stackhouse said. “I was at the Miami game when he had 30 in the second half. He has a flair for some excitement and he knows how to pass the ball so I wish him well.”

The 905 overcame a 12 point halftime deficit and sent 4,827 fans, most of them children, home happy. Burke had a chance to send the game into overtime but his corner three point attempt went off the back iron, and into the hands of Caboclo, sealing the 905 win.

“That was beautiful,” Stackhouse said when asked about the crowd. “The kids were great; they came in and (were loud). Hopefully, they enjoyed the game.”

Stackhouse made a joke at assistant coach Nikki Gross’ expense, saying, “The kids threw off our butter call late in the shot clock. It’s always Nikki with the high pitch but with the kids’ high pitch, (we) couldn’t distinguish the butters today.”

The Raptors 905 shot a scorching 53.5 per cent from the field and 50 per cent from beyond the arc despite taking 10 less shots than Westchester. Although the Knicks outpaced the 905 in triples (16-12), assists (30-21), and steals (12-7), it was the charity stripe that proved to be the deciding factor of the game as the 905 outscored the Knicks, 24-11, in that category.

The 905 also beat the Knicks in rebounding (38-32) as well as points in the paint (40-36), although

Both sides started off strong offensively as Burke scored seven points in the first three minutes of the game. But Best hit back-to-back triples to put the 905 up 15-11, forcing a Knicks timeout.

The timeout sparked Westchester as they scored the next seven points but a Brown triple and a jump hook from Meeks gave the Raptors 905 a brief 20-18 lead. The 905 took a 24-21 lead after another jump hook from Meeks but the Knicks, buoyed by consecutive threes from Watson, took a 27-24 lead after one.

The second quarter saw the Knicks continue to shoot the lights out from the field, going up 36-28 early, with Rathan-Mayes picking apart the 905 defence with his facilitating.

However, the 905 were kept afloat by some timely contributions from Canadians Richard Amardi and Kaza Keane. Amardi scored all nine of his points in the second quarter, including back-to-back offensive sequences when he hit a three and followed with a mid range jumper after a shot fake. Keane had five of his seven points in the quarter alone.

A layup from Keane cut the lead to 44-42 before the Knicks went on a 12-4 run to extend their lead to double digits, taking advantage of six 905 turnovers in the second quarter. A block and subsequent three from Caboclo seemed to spark the 905 but the Knicks scored five straight points, off a layup from Hayes and another triple from Kornet, gave them a 61-49 lead at halftime.

Westchester had three players in double figures at the half. Kornet had 16 points on four triples while Burke had 12. Hayes scored all 11 of his first half points in the second quarter and the Knicks hit a scorching 71.4 per cent (10-14) from downtown. Despite only having two points at the half, Rathan-Mayes had nine assists in the first half alone and was a +13 on the court.

Meanwhile, Brown and Amardi, who had nine points apiece, led the 905. Turnovers hurt the Raptors as they committed 10 in the half and were outscored 22-18 in the paint as well as 30-21 from behind the arc.

Lorenzo Brown

Determined to come out with a sense of urgency, Meeks started at center in the second half in place of Andre Washington. The Raptors started off via a three point play from Caboclo. This sparked the 905 to tie the game at 65 (first tie since late in the first quarter at 24-24) on a 16-4 run.

Hayes then scored five straight points but a couple of free throws from Berry and a fadeaway from Brown had the 905 trailing by just one (70-69). A post fadeaway from Meeks gave the 905 a 71-70 lead, its first since 24-21.

The Knicks’ Jordan Henriquez came right back, cramming a left handed dunk over Meeks but he responded with a layup to take back the lead. Westchester was up 76-75 late in the quarter before Brown scored six straight points for the 905.

A contested triple by Burke, however, trimmed the 905 lead to 83-81, heading into the final frame. Brown had 12 points in the third quarter for the 905 while Hayes had nine in the frame for the Knicks. The Raptors took much better care of the ball, committing just one turnover in the quarter and after attempting just three free throws in the first half, they hit all 13 of their third quarter free throws.

Rathan-Mayes started off the final frame with a spinning layup to tie the game before Caboclo then hit a pair of free throws. Westchester forced a timeout from Stackhouse as they scored the next six points, capped off by a dunk from Watson after a steal attempt from Amardi.

Kaza Keane

Best then hit a triple to cut the lead to one before the Knicks scored four consecutive points. However, the 905 went on a 10-0 run, highlighted by back to back triples from Best and Caboclo. Both teams then exchanged baskets in the next two minutes, highlighted by a mean ball fake and layup from Brown.

Rathan-Mayes and Brown both exchanged big threes as the 905 led 106-100 with less than two minutes to go. A floater from Burke and another three from Kornet trimmed the Raptors lead to 106-105 with 1:29 left in the game.

Neither team scored on each of their next possessions and Brown had the ball with a chance to extend the Raptors lead. However, he threw the ball away, committing one of his five turnovers in the quarter, giving Westchester a chance to take the lead with 32.9 seconds left in the game.

‘I want him to be aggressive and use his ability to get in the paint and score,” Stackhouse said. “But I want him to take care of the ball; six turnovers is too much. He’s open minded and he’ll get better in that department as the year goes on.”

Burke attempted a floater in the lane but was fouled by Best, sending him to the free throw line as the crowd was clearly displeased at the call and booed him heavily.

Clearly, the kids screaming must have worked as Burke, a 84.2 per cent free throw shooter from the line heading into this game, missed both. The 905 grabbed the rebound and Caboclo was intentionally fouled; he did not waste any time, making both free throws.

Westchester called a timeout but did not get back on the court in time when the whistle blew, earning a delay of game technical. Berry then made the ensuing free throw, putting the 905 up by four. However, Rathan-Mayes made another huge triple with 7.7 seconds left, cutting the 905 lead to one again.

Caboclo was intentionally fouled once again but split the pair of free throws this time. Kornet grabbed the rebound but was fouled, giving him a chance to tie the game.

However, Kornet missed the second free throw and Berry grabbed the rebound. He was intentionally fouled and subsequently made both free throws.

Westchester then advanced the ball to half court with a chance to tie but could not convert, giving the 905 another narrow victory.

UP NEXT: The 905 continue their five game homestand as they play the Lakeland Magic on Saturday Nov. 18 at 2:00pm.

Canadian friends Negus Webster-Chan & Xavier Rathan-Mayes postgame embrace

Written by Kajan Thiruthanikasalam

Edited by Drew Ebanks

Photos by Cameron Bartlett (@snappedbycam)

 

 

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Raptors 905 give out rings, raise banner and win in home opener

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The Raptors 905 celebrated their 2017 championship in style Wednesday evening, distributing replica D-League Championship rings to fans in attendance and recognizing head coach Jerry Stackhouse for his Coach of the Year award from last season. The Hershey Centre was expectedly raucous for the team’s home opener, a positive sign for the relatively new G-League franchise.  

It wasn’t pretty, and the numbers were telling:

38.9 per cent from the floor, 33.3 per cent from three and a shocking – but not really – 27 turnovers, leading to 24 Long Island points and equaling more than a third of the total put up by the Nets.

But despite the troubles offensively, the unusual amount of miscues, and the lack of chemistry and cohesion – an inevitable result of bringing in an entirely new roster outside of the two returnees in Bruno Caboclo and Negus Webster-Chan – the 905 muscled their way through the assignee-less Long Island Nets Wednesday evening, coming away with the 91-65 win and improving to 1-1 on the season.

“That’s probably one of the not-so-bright spots of the night,” said head coach Jerry Stackhouse of the team’s absurd number of turnovers, perhaps a result of losing floor generals John Jordan and Axel Toupane this offseason.

“A lot of it was just our own mistakes with the ball. That’s where we have to keep pressing the issue and making sure that we’re just solid,” he said. “Everybody wants the highlights but we’ve just got to find a way to be solid and the highlights will take care of themselves.”

The offence was disjointed – understandable considering the novelty of the roster and the lack of time together to mesh and gel – but the effort, intensity, and will to dig in defensively are all echoes of a Stackhouse team.

The 905 limited the Nets to a remarkable 26.7 per cent from the floor and 11.1 per cent (3-27 from deep) while also causing havoc in passing lanes (Richard Amardi shot the gap quite often against some lazy, stagnant passing by Long Island).

“We’re not going to hold teams to 50 or 60 points every night,” said Stackhouse. “I think this is a good sign for our guys, to let them know that when we do the things that we supposed to do defensively then we’re capable of having nights like this even when we don’t play offence well.”

The team is visibly smaller than last year, something that will surely cause issues against bigger teams. But they’ve added foot speed and length, improving their ability to close out on shooters and switch on screens. It’s the new way of going about things in the NBA, and it’s quickly trickling down into the G-League as well.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Bruno Caboclo

Experiential learning 

One of the lone bright spots offensively was the much maligned and perhaps enigmatic Caboclo. It’s fair to question the mental psyche of the 6-foot-9 forward – he can shoot, but lacks consistency; he can defend, but lacks the drive- however, you would be wrong to deny the physical stature, gangly arms, and just sheer versatility of the fourth-year player and the sort of intangibles he brings to the 905 with his presence alone.

On Wednesday, Stackhouse, prior to tip off, alluded to possibly plugging Caboclo at the five and perhaps staggering his minutes in hopes of unearthing some possible on-court combinations. But by no means did anyone, at least me, foresee the Brazilian starting at Center and subsequently anchoring the 905 defence.

In just under 28 minutes, Caboclo recorded 17 points, six rebounds and was perfect from beyond the arc (3-3), all while sporting a plus-minus of 18.

“We’re still high on Bruno. We think he still has some unbelievable potential,” said Stackhouse. “He’s just gotta try to find a way to tap into it.

“I like [him playing at Center] because it’s a matchup problem for [other teams]. Our only real Center on the team right now is Andre Washington. Having Bruno out there at the five I think we can cause some matchup problems. With his length we don’t worry about him really on the defensive end.”

Caboclo is nearing the back nine of his rookie contract and surely the pressure to perform is mounting exponentially.

If all goes well, the hope is that he’ll eventually carve himself a spot with parent club Toronto Raptors, but much of that is contingent on his success in the G-League.

Aaron Best

Canadian Take Over

Take a look at the roster sheet and you might recognize some familiar Canadian names plotted down on the paper. From new additions like Kaza Keane (Carleton), Aaron Best (Ryerson), and Amardi (NBL Canada by way of Oregon), to returning players like Webster-Chan and Caboclo (he’s reserved the right be considered an honourary Canadian), the 905 managed to pluck some talent from their very own backyard.

How they did

Best is an interesting talent. He’s quick, deceptively strong, and has the ability to spread the floor of any offence. He was the go-to scorer at Ryerson, but he’ll have to learn to adapt to the point guard position if he’s to carve out a role in the G-League. That’s not to say he can’t be successful scoring the ball, he can, but scoring guards are a dime-a-dozen in the G-League, so he’ll have to separate himself from the pack.

Stats:

Best – 34 min | 4 points|5 rebounds|3 steals|5 turnovers|(1/7 FG)- (0-4 3pt)]|

Amardi will always be a great locker room presence, but that’s not why the 905 brought him in. The 6-foot-9 forward brings a depth of versatility and athleticism to an already long and athletic group of guys.

“Don’t start that,” said a noticeably amused Stackhouse when asked about Amardi and his ability to play all five positions. “He’s a four. Make sure he hears that. He’s a four, he doesn’t play all positions.

“But it’s good to have Richard, he’s a great personality on our team, first off. He’s the life of the team, but I just think he’s skilled. He’s athletic, can play above the rim, can offensive rebound, can guard different positions for us,” said Stackhouse. “Really happy to have him.”

Stack’s analysis was fairly precise. Amardi’s a Swiss army knife, willing and capable of taking on all sorts of challenges. The former Oregon Duck logged just over 22 minutes and scored eight points to go along with nine rebounds, but his highlight of the night – a transition steal which led to a thunderous jam – was a microcosm of his athletic ability and, unerringly, why the front office is so intrigued by him.

Kaza Keane

Keane will take some time to adjust to the G-League. Having played at the NCAA and U Sports levels, he’s experienced the different layers and stages of basketball competition. From all accounts, he’s extremely coachable and malleable and was one of the many important cogs to coach Dave Smart’s offence at Carleton.

Keane didn’t necessarily play his best offensive game on Wednesday – defensively, he was a nuisance for Nets’ guards to deal with, though – but we’ll just chalk that up to nerves and adjusting to a new court, new teammates and a new, heightened level of competition.

Keane will be fine. Once his jump shot begins falling the rest of his game will eventually open up.

Keane – 20 min | 2 points|3 rebounds|4 assists|5 turnovers| (1/7 FG)- (0-4 3pt)] | 

According to Blake Murphy of Raptors Republic, Webster-Chan is still nursing an IT band injury, causing him to miss his second consecutive game.

OTHER NOTABLES

Lorenzo Brown Team-high 19 points, 3 rebounds & 4 assists in 33 mins

Alfonzo McKinnie 16 points, 6 rebounds in 26 mins

No such thing as stability in the G-League

Lorenzo Brown

Roster changes are inevitable in any professional sports league. It’s expected.

It’s especially prevalent in developmental leagues where players are constantly on the move, searching for better opportunities and using the minor-league system as a springboard into a more competitive and lucrative situation.

The NBA G-league, recently rebranding its name to align with its major sponsor, Gatorade, is a prime example of the constant flux and movement of team personnel in pro sports. Just last season former Raptors 905 stars Toupane and Tavares were both called up to the NBA to finish out the remainder of the 2016-17 season. 

It’s the reality of the G-league and essentially the crux of its existence.

The focus of every team in the league is to develop and nurture its players, not win games – though that’s invariably a bonus.

NBA D-League Championship Banner

Written by Jas Grewal

Edited by Drew Ebanks

Photos by Cameron Bartlett (@snappedbycam)

 

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Different paths but same End Line: A look at the Raptors 905 Newest Canadian Ballers

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Special to On Point Basketball

(Toronto, On) As the official roster for the Raptors 905 was recently announced, one thing that stood out from the roster was that four Canadians were on the roster, including returning player and NBA G-League champion Negus Webster-Chan.

Aaron Best, Kaza Keane, and Richard Amardi were the three other Canadians made the squad but each of them took completely different paths to get here.

Below is a look at their stories and how they got to this point. Also, here are some takeaways from each of the Canadian newcomers from 905 Media Day.

Thoughts about Four Canadians on the 905 Roster

“These are all guys that I’ve known from the past and it’s great for us to come all together and work forward towards a common goal.” (Best)

“It’s nice and it’s always good to represent our country. At the end of the day, it’s a team sport. It doesn’t matter what country we’re from; as long as we come together and represent the Raptors 905, that’s all it matters.” (Keane)

“It’s comforting as well as competition between us. At the end of the day, we have a lot of pride as Canadians. We were always forgotten so we got to do the most and we had to overachieve to show that we were a little bit better. The bar just gets raised higher because we try to get the best out of each other on and off the court.” (Amardi)

Returning Canadian Negus-Webster Chan

Comparisons Between 905 Head Coach Jerry Stackhouse and Former College/University Coaches

“They care a lot about their players; they’re very passionate. You never get the opportunity to play for a coach like that where they’ve been there and know what they’re talking about.” (Keane on Stackhouse’s similarities to Carleton Head Coach Dave Smart)

“They both believe in defense. To them, defense is a major thing to drill into a person’s head because that wins a lot of games. I think they have similar styles but different approaches. Both are intense and love the game just as much and they understand that defense is what it takes to make things happen.” (Amardi on the similarities between Stackhouse and Oregon Head Coach Dana Altman)

“Obviously, it’s a different level now. What’s similar between the two of them (Rana and Stackhouse) is the attention of detail ,the pride on defense, and defense being the main staple. I think they have a lot of similarities in terms of their values and how they want to play basketball.” (Best on the similarities between Stackhouse and Ryerson Head Coach Roy Rana)

Summer Leagues

Both Amardi and Keane had played in the summer during this year’s Crown League and also spoke about their experiences there.

“You have the best players in the city coming together from all types of different avenues of professional basketball,” Keane said. “To battle it out and see who can become the best team in our city; some of that doesn’t come around very often. It was my first experience and I loved it.”

“It was staying in shape; it was playing with a lot of high-level competition,” Amardi said, who also played in On Point’s inaugural Summer Pro-Am League. “It was being focused game in and game out and always having the attention to detail to allowing everything to happen where you let it suppose to happen, on any given day.”

The Stigma Surrounding U SPORTS and the NBA

In previous years, U SPORTS (formerly the CIS) was not known for producing NBA or G-League talent, for that matter. The last time an U SPORTS player was in the NBA was in 1983, when Jim Zoet played for the Detroit Pistons.

By making the 905 though, Best and Keane are one step closer to making their NBA dreams a reality. The two guards are the first U SPORTS athletes to make it to the 905 regular season roster.

“Hopefully, I can be an inspiration and encourage (U SPORTS) athletes that it is possible,” Best said. “I think the gap is closing between U SPORTS and the NCAA. The NCAA is an elite league but U SPORTS is rapidly growing.”

“U SPORTS is overlooked at a lot of levels but I think there’s been a lot of good talent that’s come out of this level,” Keane said, referring to Carleton alumni Phil and Thomas Scrubb. “Canada Basketball is stepping in the direction that it’s not rare that you have professionals coming out of U SPORTS. It’s a great opportunity for us and we’re just going to try and thrive.”

Aaron Best with On Point’s Kajan Thiruthanikasalam

ONCE A RAM, ALWAYS A RAM: AARON BEST

It is not often that a player can leave upon a legacy at an Ontario university and still be able to have his NBA dreams within his grasp.

Enter Ryerson’s own Aaron Best. Unlike most players that are currently in the G-League, Best, 25, spent his entire collegiate career with the Ryerson Rams.

The 6-foot-4 shooting guard spent five years with the Rams and won an Ontario University Association title in his final season (2015-16) with Ryerson. He finished his career at Ryerson with 14 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.6 apg, and 1.1 spg while shooting an efficient 48.8 per cent overall and 39.1 per cent from beyond the arc.

“I took a lot from Coach Rana and built long-lasting relationships at Ryerson,” Best said. “Here, I feel like a lot of the same things are asked out of the players like attention to detail and defense first.”

Best then went to Lithuania to play professional basketball, signing a contract with Juventus of the Division 1 League. He averaged 7.2 ppg during the 2016-17 regular season before trying his luck with the G-League.

“A lot of times, when guys go overseas, they’re expecting a drastic change with the culture there,” Best said. “It wasn’t much of a change really; it was a cool family-oriented city. It was a nice experience.”

Best also quipped, saying, “Right off the bat, they think you’re American.”

The Scarborough native attended an open tryout with the 905 in September and it was apparent that the organization liked Best enough that they acquired him in a trade after the Long Island Nets drafted him 42nd overall in this year’s G-League Draft.

“It was a great honour being from here,” Best said. “They just came off winning a championship so for them to be interested in me is great and I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”

The short distance from his hometown in Scarborough to the Hershey Centre also helps matters out for Best.

“It’s great. My family can just drive 20-30 minutes on the highway and be able to watch me play for home games,” Best said. “It’s special.”

A reminder to Best and his family: Beware about the traffic during rush hour, especially during games at 7:00 pm.

Former Carleton Raven Kaza Keane

CAREER REVIVAL VIA CARLETON: KAZA KEANE

Normally, Canadian basketball players and NBA hopefuls find the best opportunities down south of the border in order to get attention and make it into the NBA.

Keane, however, broke that mold… by doing the exact opposite.

“It was just an opportunity to play with Dave (Smart),” Keane said. “I wanted to play professional basketball and at the level I was performing at when I was in the United States, I wasn’t going to get there.”

Keane’s path at the collegiate level was not easy. The Ajax, Ont., native spent two unspectacular seasons at Illinois State and another ho-hum year at Cleveland State before finally finding a home with the Carleton Ravens. Given that U SPORTS was considered the weaker league compared to competition in the United States, the move was considered questionable and somewhat of a step back.

The move to Carleton, however, sparked Keane, 23, to unprecedented levels as the 6-foot-1 point guard led Carleton to back-to-back U SPORTS championships in his two years with the Ravens.

“Sometimes you just have to find the best situation for yourself,” Keane said. “The grass isn’t greener on the other side. If you’re good enough, they’ll find you.”

Keane credited Smart, Carleton’s decorated head coach, for guiding his career back on the right track.

“Coach was pretty frank and honest with me and said he didn’t believe that I was a pro (at the time),” Keane reminisced. “He said I could become a pro if I could develop in those two years. It was a no-brainer then to take my talents and go to Carleton.”

“I played for one of the best coaches ever,” Keane said. “I just try to soak in everything that he tells me and I talk to him consistently (to this very day).”

In his final year at Carleton, Keane spearheaded a Ravens team that finished the 2016-17 regular season undefeated. Keane also won the MVP of the 2017 U SPORTS Final 8 Tournament and Carleton’s 2017 Male Athlete of the Year award.

Keane averaged 14.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, and 5.9 apg over his two years with the Ravens while shooting an efficient 50.6 per cent from the field.

Keane’s development as a player at Carleton was clearly noticed as he was also invited to represent Team Canada for the 2017 Universiade (Taipei City, Chinese Taipei). He led the team in scoring with 20.4 ppg, although Canada finished in 10th place.

“It was definitely a learning experience, being in a situation where you only had players that came together for a week to represent their country,” Keane said. “We didn’t get a medal like we wanted to but we built a brotherhood over there and that’s something that will last forever.”

“It was one of the best experiences I ever had, especially being in Taiwan for a month.”

Keane is hopeful of the Canadian youth and senses there will be growth in the future.

“Hopefully, the guys in two years can get a medal for our country,” Keane said.

The former Ravens guard earned an invite to the 905 training camp from their local tryout in September and ran with the opportunity. However, Keane admitted that the speed of the game will be the hardest to adapt to in the initial stages.

“I had to catch a breath a couple of times yesterday,” Keane said, referring to the 905’s final preseason game against the Erie Bayhawks. “It’s a different speed and the length of the players is top notch. I just have been talking to the coaches a lot, getting feedback, and watching film to get an advantage.”

A move to Canada helped revive Keane’s hopes of a basketball career. He looks to continue his upward trajectory in the country that he’s most comfortable with.

Once Rivals, Now Teammates

Before making the 905 became a reality for Best and Keane, they were opposing players as part of a rivalry between the Rams and the Ravens basketball programs respectively. Although they only faced off during the 2015-16 season, it brought forward some intense battles as Ryerson began to go toe-to-toe with the dynasty that was the Ravens. The Rams even won the OUA Final over the Ravens; however, Carleton emerged victorious in the U SPORTS Final 8 Tournament while Ryerson took bronze.

Fast forward two years later. Now, they’re teammates.

“Honestly, it’s a little bit of a relief,” Best said, smiling. “I’ve played against Kaza quite a bit and he’s a great player and it’s nice for us to be on the same side now.”

“We definitely make some funny remarks about the rivalry that’s been going on between Carleton and Ryerson,” Keane said. “It’s all love; we both respect each other as opponents and teammates now. Hopefully we can get to the point that the rivalry continues and grows where people in Canada respect it and people can go support the game at the biggest level.”

Head Coach Jerry Stackhouse

TOO MANY TWISTS AND TURNS BUT ALIVE AND WELL: RICHARD AMARDI

We couldn’t finish this article without mentioning one of the most unique ballers out there, 27-year-old Richard Amardi, from Scarborough, Ont.

Amardi’s journey here endured many ups and downs. His post-secondary basketball career spanned three teams, starting at Weatherford College for a year and Indian Hills Community College (JUCO) for two years before finishing off his senior season (2013-14) with the Oregon Ducks.

Amardi made the most of his opportunity at Oregon, averaged 6.4 ppg and 3.9 rpg, playing in all 34 games under head coach Dana Altman. He said that it was a wakeup call for him when he played at Oregon compared to his other schools.

“At the time, someone coming from where I was coming from, all I wanted to do was get an opportunity to play on TV,” Amardi said. “I didn’t really understand the history behind it, who guys were, and how much work and time they generally put in to make things happen.”

The forward was effusive in his praise of Altman, saying, “He helped me understand that he is not just someone who’s recognized and acknowledged as a great coach. This is someone that is a great coach, a great person, and also helps your game in so many different ways.”

Amardi then came closer to home to start his professional career in the NBL Canada, playing with the Orangeville (formerly Brampton) A’s for two seasons and the Niagara River Lions for one season. The 6’9” forward averaged 12.3 ppg and 5.1 rpg over the course of three years in the NBL.

“There were a lot of positives coming out of Brampton because Brampton gave me my opportunity at professional basketball,” Amardi said. “They allowed me to grow as a professional on so many different levels.”

His year with the River Lions was filled with improvement as he was named to the NBLC All-Canadian Third Team.

“Niagara gave me a home where I could literally build that platform and foundation for me to springboard into different levels,” Amardi said.

However, his professional career was filled with bumps along the way.

“I was overwhelmed with a lot of things that had happened in that year so I kind of took some time off after my second season professionally,” Amardi said.

That time off did not last long.

“I had a major void that was missing in my life and I wasn’t happy,” Amardi said. “When I understood that it was basketball that was what I was missing, I put my foot forward and never looked back from there.”

Amardi’s improvements as a player were rewarded this summer as he earned an invite to play for the Canadian Senior Men’s National Team (which included NBA players Andrew Nicholson and Joel Anthony as well as former NCAA studs Brady Heslip and Xavier Rathan-Mayes) in the FIBA AmeriCup 2017 in Argentina.

“Honestly, that was an experience that changed my life,” Amardi said. “Once I got put on that level with all those other great talents, I got to sit back and actually appreciate the fact that I possibly have a great opportunity to make something out of basketball.”

He, like Keane, also earned a camp invite from the 905 after impressing during an open tryout in September.

“That’s basketball for you,” Amardi said. “It really has no explanation where the ball takes you. And the fact that it’s brought me all the way to this level, to this place, and this moment… words can’t explain it.”

What has been the biggest difference for him in the G-League compared to the NBL Canada?

“Everyone is just as talented. It’s not like there are a few guys that are talented; you got to understand how everybody on the court can do the same things that you would do,” Amardi said. “It’s about playing the right way, understanding the coverage and defensive schemes, understanding what would work, and what won’t work.”

As for what his goal is for the regular season, Amardi said, “I just want to bring a lot of passion and energy. I just want to do the small things that help this team become the championship team that it was last year.”

For someone that started his younger days at Winston Churchill Collegiate Institute, Amardi has sure come a long way indeed.

By: Kajan Thiruthanikasalam

Edited by Drew Ebanks

Photos by Rob Ong

 

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GoDaddy Canada and Toronto Raptor Norman Powell team up to inspire Canadian small businesses

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Norman Powell launches first single “No Problem” using GoDaddy Website Builder

TORONTO, October 30, 2017 – GoDaddy, the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures, today announced it is teaming up with Toronto Raptors shooting guard Norman Powell to inspire Canadian entrepreneurs and small business owners to live their passions, and build life-changing businesses.

While fans of Powell know him for his work on-the-court with the Toronto Raptors, his off-the-court passion is music. And despite a lifelong love of music, Powell never knew how to bring his musical dreams to life. That’s where GoDaddy stepped up to the line.

GoDaddy wanted to help Powell bring his musical vision to life and began working with the Raptors guard to create a new single and music video. To showcase how easy it can be for entrepreneurs and small business owners to extend and enhance their business online, Powell’s own website, PowellOnThePiano.ca shares his musical creation with the world using GoDaddy Website Builder.

To help bring Powell’s musical ideas to fruition, GoDaddy joined forces with Pirate, a local Toronto small business and loyal GoDaddy customer, to record and produce Powell’s new single, “No Problem.” Not only did Powell record the searing vocals for “No Problem,” he also played piano on the track.

With help from Pirate, GoDaddy worked with Powell to produce his first track, which is available today and music video, which is dropping soon. The song is available to check out on Powell’s new GoDaddy powered website, PowellOnThePiano.ca . Fans can also stream “No Problem” from Spotify and Apple Music.

Don’t worry Raptors fans, Powell has no plans to step away from the court to launch a new career as a musician. The collaboration with GoDaddy and Pirate has simply allowed Powell to pursue his passion for music that he’s always had.

“Norman Powell is not only a great basketball player, but also an aspiring musician,” said Jill Schoolenberg Vice President and Country Manager of GoDaddy Canada. “After the success of our Itty Bitty Ballers campaign, we were thrilled to work again with the Raptors and specifically with Norman to help showcase his musical talent, while highlighting how easy it is for Canadians to get online and further their ventures.”

“I’ve had a passion for music my whole life, and with help from GoDaddy, I actually recorded a song for everyone to enjoy,” said Norman Powell, Toronto Raptor. “I couldn’t believe that my website was built in under an hour. While my first love will always be basketball, I’m excited to see what people think of my first single.”

About GoDaddy

GoDaddy powers the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures. With nearly 17 million customers worldwide and over 72 million domain names under management, GoDaddy is the place people come to name their idea, build a professional website, attract customers and manage their work. Our mission is to give our customers the tools, insights and the people to transform their ideas and personal initiative into success. To learn more about the company, visit godaddy.ca.

About MLSE

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) one of the world’s premier sports and entertainment companies, owns the Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL), Toronto Raptors (NBA), Toronto FC, Toronto Marlies (AHL), Raptors 905 (NBA D-League), and TFC II (USL).  It also owns Air Canada Centre, Maple Leaf Square, three digital channels – Leafs TV, NBA TV Canada and has a partnership with Live Nation. MLSE has also invested in and operates five of Toronto’s sports facilities – Ricoh Coliseum, BMO Field, Kia Training Grounds at Downsview Park, home of Toronto FC’s Academy and the First Team’s practice facility, and the MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence, the practice facility for the Maple Leafs and Marlies.

About Pirate

Pirate is a première creative audio production facility located in the production hub of Downtown Toronto, on King Street East. Occupying the top floor of the Ontario Design Centre, Pirate has over 10,000 sq ft of space, with 4 state-of-the art 5.1 HD recording studios, a best in class Voice – Casting facility, an amazing team of music composers and producers and the best lunch in the city. To learn more about the company, visit www.piratetoronto.com.

For further information: Meghan Edwards, North Strategic, meghan.edwards@northstrategic.com, 416-300-5720

Courtesy Go Daddy

Drew Ebanks

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Canada Basketball Foundation reception Thursday November 23rd, 2017 in Halifax

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The Canadian Men’s National Basketball Team is headed to Halifax to compete in the first stage of FIBA World Cup Qualification – taking on the Bahamas on Friday, November 24th at the Scotiabank Centre.  

Tip-off the game experience with an exclusive Canada Basketball reception on Thursday, November 23rd at the Auction House!

Mix and mingle with the team, enjoy complimentary refreshments and celebrate Halifax’s rich basketball history, while raising funds to support the Canadian Basketball Foundation.

Premium auction items available, including:

  • Behind the Scenes Team Canada Experience
  • Raptors vs Warriors Trip
  • Raptors vs Cavaliers Trip
  • Signed memorabilia and more!

Get your tickets here today!

For more information, contact bwilliams@basketball.ca

Courtey Canada Basketball

Drew Ebanks

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That’s a Rap: Season Opener win over the Bulls

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GM Masai Ujiri alluded to a culture reset at the conclusion of the 2017 NBA season, not long after the Cleveland Cavaliers conveniently swept the Toronto Raptors. Part of the change in philosophy pointed to a revamp in the offence.

Ujiri acknowledged that the team has made steps in the right direction, but that there’s another tier to success that the franchise has yet to reach: “We need to figure it out. Yes, there’s been some success, but at the end of the day we are trying to win a championship here. To me making the playoffs is nothing.”

Perhaps measuring that new style of play against a team on a downward spiral is the ideal thing to do, and that’s precisely what the Raptors did on Thursday in their 117-100 rout of the Chicago Bulls.

Toronto certainly struggled right out of the gate, but there were a lot of takeaways from the win. DeMar DeRozan looked like a completely different player, and while he only recorded 11 points on the night, he tallied five assists and made a clear effort to get others involved.

There was one point during the first when DeRozan curled off a screen, received the ball from Kyle Lowry, split through traffic while reeling in the defence, and proceeded to skip a bounce pass to the rolling Jonas Valanciunas. The play would lead to a turnover, but the alertness by DeRozan to see the double team and then continue to thread the needle (or at least try to) is the sort of philosophy Ujiri was hinting at in May of last season.

Here’s something you don’t see often, the Raptors shot 29 three-pointers (making 13 of them) and registered 26 assists in the game. One player who reaped the benefits of the happy-sharing offence was C.J. Miles. One of the knocks on Patrick Patterson and even DeMarre Carroll, to a much lesser extent, were their reluctance to fire away from the perimeter. Terrence Ross didn’t suffer from that, but he carried a sort of irrational confidence that hindered him more so than helped him. Miles, who would pour 22 points on six three-pointers off the bench, doesn’t suffer through that plight. The southpaw rarely sees a shot he doesn’t like (cue turnaround three-ball in the first half), and he also possesses a hair-trigger release, making it difficult for weak-side defenders to close out on him in time.

But it wasn’t just Miles and DeRozan who showed some positive signs. Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, Norm Powell, and OG Anunoby were brilliant.

JV: Valanciunas will always be one of the more polarizing players on the Raptors. You love when he rebounds and scores well, but you find yourself screaming at the television when he pump fakes on open looks or misses bunnies inside that should really be easy dunks. JV had 23 points and 15 rebounds (8 offensive) in 30 minutes of time. He was aggressive, assertive, and made moves with conviction. I still haven’t fully bought into the whole three-ball thing with the ‘Lethal Lithuanian’ – but you can’t fault him for trending towards the new NBA where big men are beginning to step out. Val was a nice sight to see.

DW: This is what Raptors fans were expecting once there were murmurs of a potential Cory Joseph departure in the offseason. Wright has a unique set of tools that allows him to do a wide variety of things. He was crafty in small spaces against the Bulls and managed to split the seams on multiple occasions, leading to either a basket or at least a high-percentage shot. We already know Wright is an emerging defender who possesses the ideal frame to become an elite defender, but there were always variables surrounding his offensive play. Those concerns were not apparent on Thursday, where Wright would score 13 points and record five assists off the pine while effectively spearheading the bench unit when the starters struggled. Look for Wright to continue to share and split minutes with Fred VanVleet moving forward. Both players are capable of filling up the stat sheet on any given night, and the Raptors become that much more of a threat when they do.

NP: There’s not much that hasn’t already made the airwaves or at the very least been talked about by Raptors fans. The guy is a straight-up baller, fears literally no one, and is slowly becoming Dwane Casey’s most consistent scorer – outside of Lowry and DeRozan, of course. In 24 minutes, Powell scored 15 points, knocked down three trifectas, and kept the Raptors from completely imploding in the first quarter during their dry spell. It’ll be interesting to see if Powell maintains his hold on that starting spot, but so far it seems as though neither he nor Casey have any plans of changing that.

OG: It still baffles me that the Raptors were able to scoop up OG at number 23. Anunoby does not look like your average 20-year old. Perhaps it’s his bulky 6-foot-8, 215 lb. frame that confuses people. Nonetheless, the former Indiana Hoosier was unmistakable in his brilliance and it wasn’t because of his stats – he scored nine points on six shots – but because of his assertiveness and willingness to defend and score on anything he saw moving out there. OG was a menace down low and wasn’t afraid to get rugged against the Bulls’ big men. A few instances during the game should really excite Raptors fans. His first NBA points came off a spin-move dunk – a move that looked like something a seasoned vet would do, not a rookie. In one play he took a direct-line drive down the baseline, attracted defenders, and made a sneaky little lob pass to Jakob Poeltl for the easy lay in. OG certainly has the talent, physical tools, and IQ to really craft himself a role in the NBA, it will just take some time and development before he makes the leap as one of the top 3-and-D guys in the league.

Last Thoughts:

The Raptors didn’t look especially good in their home opener. There were even instances where the team would revert back to the iso-ball play style that plagued them over the past few years. A lot of sloppy plays by Lowry and DeRozan bled into the rest of the team, as evident in their 17 turnovers. But the reason for the untidiness and lack of cohesion was because of the new style of play Casey is trying to implement. Great teams figure out how to win playing the right way, but it takes time and many failed attempts before it’s right. The Raptors will be no different.

Expect a lot more chaotic play moving forward, but also understand that mistakes will be mitigated, teammates will become more comfortable with each other, and guys will gain confidence.

It certainly wasn’t pretty on Thursday, but these are the kind of things that you hope to flush out of the system early in the season, not after April when teams are approaching playoff time.

Written by Jas Grewal

Edited by Drew Ebanks

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Toronto Raptors 2017-18 Season Preview & Outlook

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(Toronto, ON) You wouldn’t be incorrect to say that the past two seasons have been really good to Toronto Raptors fans.

Surely there’s some success in failure, as demonstrated two years ago when the Toronto Raptors ‘drove’ the Cleveland Cavaliers to six games in the Eastern Conference Finals, the furthest the franchise has ever made it in post-season history.

The organization has made monumental strides since the arrival of GM Masai Ujiri, notching four straight playoff appearances while witnessing the metamorphosis of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan into perennial All-Stars. Ujiri certainly carries his faults – let’s not don the veil of ignorance here – but you would be hard-pressed to find another Raptors executive who has injected the franchise with such vigor and life, effectively bolstering the team’s appeal beyond the boundaries of the GTA and exhuming the pulse of the true Raptors’ fan base.

From spearheading the franchise to the aforementioned four consecutive playoff berths, to retaining All-Star-caliber unrestricted free agents and making tactical changes to the roster through heady trades, Ujiri has surely left his mark in short time.

But he’s approaching year five with the Raptors and fans have expressed some concern over the decision to keep the team’s core intact. Ujiri hasn’t indicated or shown signs of fronting a rebuild and even proceeded to ante up on Lowry and Serge Ibaka this past summer. It’s fair to declare the he and the front office are determined to keep the wheels rolling with the current core, and the offseason moves further substantiates the direction the franchise is headed towards.

Gone: DeMarre Carroll (Brooklyn), Cory Joseph (Indiana), Patrick Patterson (Oklahoma City) and PJ Tucker (Houston).

Key New Additions

(Basketball-reference.com, NBA.com & RealGM.com for statistics)

C.J. Miles:

 

Skills/Potential Role:  

Here’s a take that’s not so hot: C.J. Miles is a really good three-point shooter. The Raptors shot 36% from three last season – good for 14th in the league – but there were some clear deficiencies on the perimeter that restricted the flow and ball movement of the offence. The two-headed scoring tandem of Lowry and DeRozan are commonly criticized for their iso-heavy, high-volume scoring style of play, but it’s not fair to solely place the blame on them. The Raptors struggled to connect from beyond the arc in the latter stretches of last season, most notably during the playoffs where they shot just 33%, grouping them in bottom six in that category. Part of the dip in 3pt% can be attributed to the inherence of playoff basketball – teams are allotted more time to scout opposing players and get a feel for their strengths and weaknesses – but a lot of it had to do with players not being able to make shots.

Miles shot 41.3% from three last season, an above average shooting year, but his percentages have habitually taken a hit in the playoffs.

The hope is that head coach Dwane Casey will continue to stagger Lowry and DeRozan’s minutes, allowing Miles the opportunity to play with both the starters and bench unit. Having two ball handlers who can effectively create their own shot is surely a plus for Miles and while Paul George fit that bill in Indiana he was only one player. Don’t expect Miles to create a ton of (good) shots on his own. Instead, his skills are most optimized as a catch-and-shoot player in the corner pockets. In essence, the southpaw is a major upgrade from DeMarre Carroll.

OG Anunoby:

Skills/Potential Role:

Slated to be a top-five pick before a devastating ACL injury derailed plans, Anunoby has shown flashes of brilliance during preseason play, most notably against the Chicago Bulls where the number 23 overall draft pick connected on three trifectas. Couple that steadily improving offence with inborn defensive abilities and you have yourself a bona fide ‘3-and-D’ guy, someone who you can rely on to guard elite wings day in and day out. While Anunoby’s defence is certainly unmistakable – he’s a 6-foot-8 wing with a 7-foot-2 wingspan who can guard multiple positions and isn’t afraid to get messy inside against bigger and stronger forwards- his offence is still a work in progress, despite averaging 17.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per 40 minutes with Indiana last season. Expect him to have an immediate impact defensively – the NBA is pick-and-roll heavy and requires versatile defenders, like Anunoby, to counteract its effectiveness by switching every screen – but be patient with his offence, as he is still nursing the health of his knee and probably won’t possess the mobility he needs to be effective off the dribble, at least not for some time. Once he fully becomes comfortable from a physical standpoint and adapts to the size, speed and strength of the NBA, there’s no doubt that Anunoby has a chance to be one of the top 3-and-D players of the future.

Alfonzo McKinnie:

Skills/Potential Role:

Aside from a few preseason and NBA Summer League games, I wasn’t entirely aware of McKinnie and the sort of skills he brought to the Raptors. Based strictly off the eye test, McKinnie, 24, is supremely athletic, can punch through driving lanes and create opportunities in small spaces and, surprisingly, showed the ability to knockdown the NBA three on occasion (went 5-11 from the 3pt line in preseason). Because the Raptors are relatively set with their guard rotation – we know who will be a part of it, just not to what extent in terms of the distribution of minutes and so it will be difficult for McKinnie to really earn some meaningful time this season. The 6-foot-8 forward already possesses the athleticism to make a real impact in the NBA, but it will be the fine-tuning of the other parts of his game that will determine his success.

Measuring the Toronto Raptors in the EC

The Eastern Conference isn’t very good, and it’s not so much because of a deficiency in talent – though that is invariably a direct influence – but because of the seismic shift of star power in the Western Conference. The Raptors have a really strong chance of claiming the top seed in the conference, if not one of the top three spots.

The Celtics certainly improved in the offseason with the addition of Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, but opening night shows that not everything is guaranteed. Hayward, a major headliner in the sports world this summer when he opted to leave Utah as a free agent for Boston – suffered a dislocated ankle and fractured left tibia against the Cavaliers. The injury effectively derails the Celtics moving forward as championship contenders, but the hope is Hayward can make a full recovery and return to action near playoff time, though it’s a bit of a long shot.

The Cleveland Cavaliers will always be in the conversation when discussing championship contenders, but with Isaiah Thomas slated to return in mid-December and the fact that LeBron James will be playing alongside net-negative shooters like Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose, there is surely a cause for concern surrounding Tyronn Lue’s team. Like Tom Brady, however, it’s not in anyone’s best interest to bet against King James (see 2016 NBA Finals), and the 2017-18 campaign should be no different.

The Washington Wizards have been impressive in post-season play and have a burgeoning backcourt in John Wall and Bradley Beal that can elevate the team to another level, but depth is still an issue for D.C., and it becomes intensely magnified during the playoffs. The Wizards, like the Raptors, however, have managed to keep their central core intact, providing them with another year of experience and another opportunity to mend old mistakes.

By no means were the Raptors one of the more active teams during the offseason. Instead, Ujiri doubled-down on Ibaka and Lowry, refused to make wholesale changes to the roster, and even brought in a proven scorer in Miles to complement an iso-heavy offence. The team is, essentially, relatively similar to last year’s club – though we will see how much of an impact Miles and Anunoby will have – but they also carry another year of experience together, another year to shift holes and repair mistakes, much like Washington.

The question surrounding the Raptors will always point towards their iso-centered offence, which with the right personnel can be effective against NBA defences. DeRozan has made steady improvements every single year, even curbing his shot attempts and focusing on dishing the ball during preseason (hey, you’ve gotta start somewhere). It will be interesting to see if he becomes a sort of de facto point guard for the Raptors during stretches, perhaps slot Lowry in the corners and utilize the 1-4 spread offence more often. DeRozan is already one of the top scorers in the league, but he becomes that much more of a threat when he embraces the playmaker role and uses his presence to shift defences.

Prediction

Based strictly on what we’ve seen during preseason, the offseason moves by neighbouring teams, and the addition by subtraction of former players (I’m looking at you, Carroll), the Raptors are poised to make a serious run for the Eastern Conference championship, but much of that is contingent on the unknown surrounding Cleveland.

Record: (2nd in EC) 57-25 (following Hayward injury)

Opening game: Thursday October 19th, 2017: 7:30pm est.

Chicago Bulls vs. Toronto Raptors 

Written by Jas Grewal

Edited by Drew Ebanks

 

 

 

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64 Athletes Attend U17/U18 Men’s National Team Eastern Assessment Camp

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TORONTO, ON (October 10, 2017) – Canada Basketball’s Men’s High Performance Program announced Tuesday the 64 players who participated in the U17 / U18 Men’s National Team Eastern Assessment Camp this past weekend at Humber College – North Campus.

For a complete list of those in attendance, please click here.

Prior to the Assessment Camp, an Open ID Camp for athletes born in 2000, 2001, and 2002 was also held.

The Assessment Camp was an opportunity for staff to evaluate players ahead of next summer’s FIBA U18 Americas Championship and FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup.

A Western Canada Open ID Camp will be held at Ross Sheppard High School in Edmonton, Alberta on the weekend of November 10-12, 2017. More information will be released shortly.

A National Team Invitational Tryout will be held on Easter Weekend (March 30 – April 2, 2018).

Canadian male athletes born in the above listed years, who have a valid Canadian passport, are able to attend either Open ID Camp, regardless of their home province.

Earlier this summer, Canada Basketball and the Niagara Sports Commission announced that the city of St. Catharines will host the 2018 edition of the FIBA U18 Americas Championship.  Canada will also travel to Rosario and Santa Fe, Argentina for the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup from June 30 – July 8, 2018.

Courtesy Canada Basketball

Drew Ebanks

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Canada Basketball and Dream Maker Developments Announce Partnership

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TORONTO, ON (September 19, 2017) – Canada Basketball is proud to announce Dream Maker Developments Inc. as our Official Real Estate and Development Partner.

With this three-year partnership beginning this September, Dream Maker Developments will provide support for both Men’s and Women’s Senior National Teams.

“We’re excited to partner with Dream Maker Developments as we strive to make our dreams a reality on the international stage,” said Michele O’Keefe, President & CEO, Canada Basketball. “A supporter of basketball in our country, Dream Maker Developments has demonstrated their commitment to the continued growth and expansion of Canada Basketball. We’re looking forward to a dynamic relationship that will ultimately contribute to the success of our national teams as they work towards Tokyo 2020.”

Dream Maker Developments will become a uniform sponsor for both the Senior Men’s National Team and Senior Women’s National Team.  In addition to uniform sponsorship, Dream Maker Developments has acquired the naming rights for the drop-in national training centre that is used each summer by athletes from the men’s high performance program.

“This is a proud moment for the DreamMaker™ Team, as a proud Canadian and a fan of the sport of Basketball,” said Isaac Jr. Olowolafe, President & CEO, Dream Maker Developments Inc.  “We believe as a Canadian company, it is crucial for companies to take part in helping amateur National teams, so they can be more successful internationally.”

About Dream Maker Developments Inc.
Dream Maker Developments Inc, is a prominent development company which is known for completing the first mix-use development directly across Yorkdale Mall. Dream Maker Developments, serves as one of the vertical integrated companies under DreamMaker™ Corp. a true Asset Management company, with complimentary companies such as Dream Maker Realty, Dream Insurance, Dream Maker Ventures and Dream Sports Management; a company focus on financial literacy in the Sports Industry. DreamMaker™ Corp has a philanthropic arm, which was involved in named scholarships at University of Toronto and Naming rights at Ryerson University, Student Learning Centre.
www.DreamTO.ca

About Canada Basketball
Canada Basketball is the National Sporting Organization for the sport of Basketball in Canada. Canada Basketball is respected worldwide and is recognized by the International Amateur Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the Government of Canada as the sole governing body of the sport of amateur basketball in Canada. Canada Basketball, a not-for-profit organization, represents all basketball interests, provides leadership, coordination and direction in all areas of the sport of basketball.

Courtesy: Canada Basketball

Drew Ebanks

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