TORONTO, ON - Canada Basketball Night will take place at the Air Canada Centre tomorrow (March 18) as the Minnesota Timberwolves take on the Toronto Raptors. With the most NBA athletes in the world (12), outside of the USA, Canada Basketball will celebrate its growing popularity as two back-to-back #1 overall draft picks, Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins, play on home soil together for the first time ever.
“2015 is the year of sport in Canada and tomorrow is a great opportunity to celebrate the success of basketball across this country and give thanks to the many partners and supporters who are integral to growing the game in Canada,” said Executive Director, Michele O’Keefe. “No better place to host a celebration than at the ACC, as the Toronto Raptors have been instrumental in raising the profile of the game nationwide and influencing a generation of Canadian athletes.”
This past year, Canada has seen success on many levels. Internationally, the women’s national team placed 5th in the world at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Turkey, their best finish in 28 years. The women’s development team won the Jones Cup. The senior men competed in a successful European exhibition tournament, gaining important international experience for the young team.
Both the men’s and women’s U18/19 squads placed silver in the 2014 FIBA Americas, qualifying them for the 2015 U19 FIBA World Championships. The U16/U17 teams both placed 6th at their respective World Championships.
This summer, both senior teams will compete at the Pan Am games in Toronto in advance of their respective Olympic qualifiers. Canada Basketball was also awarded the opportunity to host the 2015 FIBA Americas Championship for Women in Edmonton, from August 9 – 16 at the Saville Community Sports Centre.
On the collegiate level many national team coaches participated in the CIS Final 8, including Lisa Thomaidis (Saskatchewan), Carly Clarke and Roy Rana (Ryerson), as well as senior men’s national team assistant coach, Dave Smart (Carleton) who won the Championship for a fifth-consecutive year. Senior athletes Korissa Williams (Windsor), Philip Scrubb and Thomas Scrubb (Carleton) all took home championships and tournament MVP honors.
The NCAA tournament will have a large Canadian presence. Trey Lyles (Kentucky) and Kia Nurse (Connecticut) have been selected as the #1 overall seed in the ‘Big Dance’. Gonzaga’s Kevin Pangos (West Coast Conference Player of the Year), Kyle Wiltjer (West Coast Conference Newcomer of the Year) and Florida State’s Adut Bulgak (All-ACC First Team) will also participate in March Madness, along with several other Canadian national team members.
Canada is also making gains in domestic development. Last month, Canada Basketball signed a multi-year partnership with Tangerine in support of growing grassroots basketball throughout Canada with the Steve Nash Youth Basketball program.
On April 14th, the depth of young talent in the country will be on display in the inaugural Biosteel All-Canadian high-school game at the Mattamy Athletic Centre. TSN will announce the 24 athletes who will be participating in the event tomorrow during Canada Basketball night.
Canada Basketball would like to thank all the Provincial and Territorial Organizations for their ongoing commitment to growing the game in Canada, as well as its partners for their continued support: Government of Canada, Sport Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Bell, Blackberry, Nike, Tangerine, The City of Edmonton, Biosteel and the Toronto Raptors.
About Canada Basketball:
Canada Basketball is a private, not-for-profit corporation committed to excellence in leading the growth of the game domestically and in pursuing medal performances on the international stage.