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Holly MacKenzie

The Naismith Notes: Canada Finishes FIBA Men's World Cup Qualifying with an 11-1 Record

After six separate windows of play, the Senior Men’s National Team are finally finished with FIBA Men’s Basketball 2023 World Cup Americas Qualifiers. After closing out the final window with a 74-57 victory over Venezuela, Canada finished qualifiers with a FIBA-Best 11-1 record.

Phil Scrubb and Kalif Young finished with 15 points apiece to lead Canada in the win, while Trae Bell-Haynes and Jackson Rowe each added 12 points. Through all six windows, players have gotten on flights from all over the world, leaving their respective teams to rejoin their national team teammates and represent Canada. Though the team had already booked a ticket to this summer’s FIBA Basketball Men’s World Cup, their commitment and focus hasn’t wavered.

Though Canada’s roster looked a little different for each game, there were two players who suited up for every game of the qualifiers. Phil Scrubb and Tommy Scrubb answered the call for all 12 games. Their dedication hasn’t gone unnoticed.

When the brothers aren’t wearing the red and white, they are suiting up for Monbus Obradoiro where they get to be professional teammates in Spain. Team Canada Associate Head Coach Nate Bjorkgren had strong praise for both brothers over the last two windows.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">12 matches, 12 flights, endless dedication 🇨🇦🏀<br><br>Huge shoutout to our guys <a href="">@tscrubb11</a>&amp; <a href="">@PhilScrubb23</a> for representing Canada in every <a href="">@fibawc</a> Qualifier window!<a href="">@FlairAirlines</a> gifted them each 12 free round-trip flights for two! Because the sky is the limit for these guys ✈️ <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Canada Basketball (@CanBball) <a href="">February 27, 2023</a></blockquote><script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

“I can't say enough about Phil Scrubb here,” Bjorkgren said after Canada’s victory against Venezuela on Sunday. “He’s played in all 12 of our window qualifying games. The loyalty, commitment and toughness that he has, the ability to knock down those shots in that tough environment tonight was outstanding. I think very highly of him and the rest of this team and everybody that has contributed to these wins.”

Canada’s lone loss of qualifiers was an 83-72 decision against home-team Argentina last Thursday. Tommy Scrubb led the team in the loss with a team-high 18 points to go with six rebounds, five assists and three steals. In addition to his offence, Tommy Scrubb’s defence has been a huge part of Canada’s success in qualifiers.

“We ask a lot of Tommy Scrubb,” Bjorkgren said after the loss to Argentina. “We ask him to guard multiple positions, many different players. He’s capable of doing all that. He can guard 1-5 on the floor. He’s a heck of a rebounder. We asked him to guard [Facundo] Campazzo some, we ask a lot of Tommy.”

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Finishing in familiar fashion 💪<br><br>Canada improves its record to 11-1 in <a href="">@FIBAWC</a> Qualifiers — the best record in the Americas — and will now shift its attention to this summer&#39;s FIBA Men&#39;s Basketball World Cup 2023. <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Canada Basketball (@CanBball) <a href="">February 27, 2023</a></blockquote><script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Less than two weeks after dropping a career-high 35 points to go with eight rebounds and five steals in an Arizona victory over No. 4 Utah, Shaina Pellington has been named a co-winner of the Pac-12 Most Improved Player of the Year award. The 5-foot-8 senior is averaging career-bests in points (13.4), assists (3.7), steals (1.9), and field goal percentage (54.2 percent shooting).

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Always working and not done yet 📈<a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MadeForIt</a> x <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LeaveALegacy</a><a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Arizona Basketball (@ArizonaWBB) <a href="">February 28, 2023</a></blockquote><script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Most Improved wasn’t Pellington’s only recognition, either. The Pickering, Ontario native was also named to the Pac-12 All-Defensive team and the All Pac-12 squad.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Two of the best in the league 😤<a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MadeForIt</a> x <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LeaveALegacy</a><a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Arizona Basketball (@ArizonaWBB) <a href="">February 28, 2023</a></blockquote><script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Yvonne Ejim has been named a finalist to the Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year. The 6-foot-1 junior is averaging 16.4 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game for the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

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Keishana Washington joins Ejim as a finalist for the Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year award. The Pickering, Ontario native is averaging 27.1 points per game in her senior season with the Drexel Dragons. In addition to being a finalist for the Mid-Major Player of the Year award, Washington is also a finalist for the Hoop Hall Ann Meyers Drysdale Shooting Guard of the Year.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">MOVIN&#39; UP! Keishana Washington has been named a finalist for the <a href="">@Hoophall</a><a href="">@WBCA1981</a> Ann Meyers Drysdale Shooting Guard of the Year!!<br><br>📰 | <a href=""></a><a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FearTheDragon</a><a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Drexel Women&#39;s Basketball (@DrexelWBB) <a href="">February 28, 2023</a></blockquote><script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Lindell Wigginton continues to reach new heights with the Wisconsin Herd. In a 120-106 Herd victory against the Salt Lake City Stars, Wigginton erupted for a career-high 41 points in 35 minutes. The Nova Scotia native shot 14-for-19 from the floor, including 5-for-7 from beyond the arc and 6-for-8 from the free throw line. Wigginton was at his best in the third where Wisconsin stretched their lead, going perfect from the field as he poured in 17 of his 41 in the quarter. Wigginton is averaging 18.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game with the Herd this season.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Lindell Wigginton scored a career-high to lead the <a href="">@WisconsinHerd</a> to a dominant win over the Stars! Wisconsin led by as many as 32 points &amp; assisted on 31 of their 43 baskets.<br><br>🦌 Edwards: 21 PTS, 7 AST, 4 REB<br>🦌 Bass: 17 PTS, 15 REB, 4 AST, 4 STL<br>🦌 Porter: 11 PTS, 13 REB, 4 BLK <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; NBA G League (@nbagleague) <a href="">March 1, 2023</a></blockquote><script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

The New York Knicks have won six in a row and eight of their last nine games. In a 128-106 win against the New Orleans Pelicans last Saturday, RJ Barrett had 25 points, a season-high seven assists and four rebounds in 29 minutes. He shot 8-for-13 from the floor, making 4-of-7 attempts from three and all five of his free-throw attempts. Barrett is averaging 19.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists through 56 games for the Knicks this season.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">RJ got him LOST lost 🧭 <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) <a href="">February 26, 2023</a></blockquote><script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Before this week is up, take some time to check out Libaan Osman’s feature on Canada Basketball legend Dwight Walton’s journey from growing up in Montreal with dreams of playing for Canada to representing his country in the 1988 Olympics.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Grateful I got to connect with Montreal basketball legend <a href="">@Bballinsider</a> and tell his story about how he dreamed of playing for Canada basketball. <br><br>Then, he did it. 🙌🏿 <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Libaan Osman (@libaanstar1) <a href="">February 24, 2023</a></blockquote><script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Finally, your Canadian highlight of the week: Raptors big man Chris Boucher put everyone on notice when he took the ball coast to coast, taking off from just inside the free throw line to deliver a thunderous slam in Toronto’s 115-110 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">🗣 INCOMINGGGGGG <a href="">@chrisboucher</a><a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) <a href="">February 24, 2023</a></blockquote><script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>