Hosted by the NBA and Canada Basketball
Written by Jaspreet Grewal
The game of hoops, once indigenous to North American confines, is globalizing at an expedited rate. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some of the best players in the world come from countries other than the United States.
The U17 NBA Americas Team Camp (hosted by Canada Basketball) took place last week Sunday (August 17-20) at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto, formerly the Maple Leaf Gardens. The camp, which welcomed 60 of the top players from six different countries (Argentina, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico), was specifically catered to the skills and development of the young prospects.
Camp participants and speakers. Tyler Ennis, Bruno Caboclo, Dwight Powell, Anthony Bennett
Under the tutelage of coaches Jay Triano (Head Coach for Team Canada & Assistant Coach for the Portland Trailblazers), Roy Rana (Head Coach for both the Team Canada Junior Men’s team & the Ryerson Rams), Eric Hughes (Milwaukee Bucks) and Chris Finch (Houston Rockets) to name a few, players were not only able to learn a great deal about the game of basketball, but were also able gain an understanding of the level of hard work and fidelity it takes to achieve their goals.
It was also an opportunity for kids to hear the individual experiences and journeys from NBA players’ Matt Bonner (San Antonio Spurs), Corey Joseph (San Antonio Spurs), Bruno Caboclo (Toronto Raptors) and Tyler Ennis (Phoenix Suns).
The event, presented by NIKE, took place in Toronto, and more specifically, Canada, for the first time since its inauguration. This country, is a surging market and one that Coach Rana believes will continue developing at a heightened pace.
“It’s phenomenal. It’s a phenomenal opportunity for us to be able to host an international event in Toronto, Canada; its first year at Ryerson”, says Rana. “We get to be gracious hosts for 60 kids from six different countries in the Americas, and also welcome numerous NBA coaches, scouts and front office people. So it’s just a phenomenal opportunity for Canada basketball.”
Coaches — and a relatively small contingent of the media — were able to see first hand the sheer talent available in and around the Americas. While Canadian and MVP of the entire camp Isiah Mike (St. Benedict’s Prep) fulfilled his expectations throughout the four day event, spectators were also able to get a good look at prodigies Guilherme Santos (Brazil), who received the MVP for the camp All-Star game, Felipe Dos Anjos De Paula (7,2″ Center from Brazil), Jhivvan Jackson (Puerto Rico) and Simi Shittu (Canada) to name a few.
Isiaha Mike(Tourney MVP) going for the block
While Mike and Santos showed the most promise over anyone else throughout the camp, it became apparent the level of competition seen at the Mattamy was an indicator of how far the game has grown and developed in the past decade, especially at the international level. An unprecedented feat to say the least.
Within the camp there was also a coaching clinic- in partnership with the NBA – as a means to offer guidance and counselling to prospective coaches from all over the world. For Rana, Canadian coaches have always been held in high regard, but only now are they receiving sufficient recognition for their hard work.
“I’m a little biased, I always thought we had great coaches. I don’t think it’s ‘all of a sudden our coaches figured it out’, I think we always had very, very good coaches at the grassroots level and it’s one of the reasons why our players are surging”, says Rana. “There’s certainly more opportunity and our kids are creating those opportunities with their success.”
Toronto Raptors Assistant Coach Jama Mahlalela running drills
Although all of the representing countries did well throughout the camp, Team Canada dominated over the other nations as they finished with a 6-1 record in the scrimmaging sessions, going on to capture the 5-on-5 tournament, 3-on-3 tournament as well as the week long shooting contest. Something Coach Rana attributes to the diversity and mélange of cultures and ethnicities in Canada. “I think we’ve got a lot of talent. There’s a lot of talent internationally but I think that we have a pretty unique pool of talent because it comes from everywhere. We have every type of immigrant community in our country and I think that’s reflected in our sport.”
There’s no doubt that Canada has leapfrogged ahead many countries in the international ranks, and the Team Americas Camp is a small indication of things to come for Canada.
With coaches like Rana and Triano leading the charge for the men in red and white, there shouldn’t be any apprehension for Canada Basketball’s future.
Written by Jaspreet Grewal
Photos Courtesy of and special thanks to Devon Greenaway
Edited and Posted by Drew Ebanks