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Canada basketball
Holly MacKenzie

The Naismith Notes: Senior Men's National Team booked and busy for FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023

TORONTO, Ont. (Nov. 17, 2022) - The Canadian Senior Men’s National Team is going to the World Cup. The team punched their ticket to the FIBA Basketball 2023 World Cup after defeating Venezuela 94-56 on Friday in Edmonton behind a 16-point effort from Kassius Robertson who was perfect (6-for-6) from the floor.

"The qualification, that's what we were here for,” Team Canada Associate Head Coach Nate Bjorkgren said. “We’ve taken every game one game at a time. All of our focus here has been on Venezuela for the last couple of months and our guys showed up and played that way today.”

Canada dominated on the boards, outrebounding Venezuela 54–25, including 20-10 on the offensive glass. They also shot 51 percent in the game to just 34 percent shooting for Venezuela, and connected on 14 three-pointers to just six for their opponent.

“We said we wanted to come out and hit first and hit again and again and they did,” Bjorkgren said. “I love coaching this team. I really do. They just kept coming at them. It’s an honour to coach for this country and this team and it’s really fun to watch."

Canada followed up Friday’s win with a 112-71 blowout against Panama on Sunday, moving the team to a perfect 10-0 in the FIBA World Cup Americas Qualifiers. Aaron Best led all scorers with 22 points in the victory as all 12 players scored for the Canadians and seven finished in double figures.

“There’s 12 guys that dressed tonight, but there’s about 40 players that are a part of this whole process,” Best said. “Each and every one of them are locked in and committed to the goal and they understand that we all have the next man up mentality. If it's not me it’s somebody else. If it’s not somebody else, then the next guy is going to step in. We all know what the goal is and we all have the same level of focus. Whatever 12 guys put on the jersey, we all have the same mentality.”

Up next for the Canadians is the sixth and final window in the qualifying process in February 2023. Though they have already qualified for the World Cup, where they finish after the qualifiers will help determine their path in the World Cup.

- The CEBL announced this week that they will be expanding to Winnipeg for the 2023 season. This will be the fourth expansion for the league since its launch in 2019 with six founding franchises.

“With teams in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, and in Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland, having a CEBL franchise located in Manitoba unifies the geographic reach of Canada’s national pro basketball league,” CEBL Commissioner and Co-Founder Mike Morreale said.

More information is to come in the near future on the team’s nickname, colours and logo, but with the team set to join the league in the 2023 season, Morreale is excited about expanding the league to another passionate basketball market.

“With the addition of Winnipeg and Calgary for the 2023 season coming on the heels of adding Montreal a year ago, the CEBL will now be playing in the top six and eight of the top 10 metropolitan areas in Canada,” he said.

- Montreal’s Cassandre Prosper has committed to Notre Dame. The 17-year-old star announced her decision to join Notre Dame this past weekend. Prosper is ranked No. 16 overall in the Class of 2023 espnW100 list.

“We are thrilled about adding five-star guard and Canadian superstar Cassandre Prosper to our Notre Dame family,” Notre Dame head coach Niele Ivey said via the school’s official release. “She is an explosive, dynamic guard with an incredible motor and skill set that is unmatched. Her international experience, athleticism, and scorer’s mentality will be an immediate asset to our program. Words can’t describe the excitement that I have for our future.”

- Toby Fournier makes it look easy. The 17-year-old Crestwood Prep star made the most of a fast break this past weekend, finishing with a gorgeous dunk.

- Though the NCAA season is still early, Creighton guard Ryan Nembhard is already drawing praise for his strong start to the season. In the team’s first three games, all victories, Nembhard is averaging 7.7 assists to just 0.7 turnovers. Nembhard was named to the 2023 Bob Cousy watch list last month. It’s been a welcomed return to the floor for the sophomore who missed out on last year’s NCAA Tournament after breaking his wrist last February.

- Team Canada and WNBA veteran Kia Nurse held the first Kia Nurse Basketball Academy Camp this past week at Humber College. Over morning and afternoon sessions, Nurse worked with many of the young Canadian girls she’s inspired with her play and leadership.

- Led by the stellar play of rookie Bennedict Mathurin, three Canadians made this week’s NBA Rookie Ladder. While first overall pick Paolo Banchero took the top spot, Mathurin was No. 2, while teammate Andrew Nembhard was No. 7 and Portland Trail Blazers guard Shaedon Sharpe rounded out the list at No. 10.

- RJ Barrett scored 30 points to go with five rebounds and five assists in a recent 121-112 New York Knicks victory over the Detroit Pistons. Barrett shot 10-for-17 from the floor, including 3-for-8 from deep and 7-for-8 from the free throw line in 38 minutes. The 22-year-old guard is averaging 18.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 13 games this season.

Finally, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continues to light it up against every team he faces. The Oklahoma City point guard is averaging a career-best 31.5 points to go with 4.4 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. Gilegeous-Alexander had 37 points apiece in his last two games, as well as a 39-point explosion in a double-overtime loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. The 24 year-old is shooting 57 percent from the field, including 39 percent from beyond the arc in the month of November.