Barrett, Nembhard Shine as Canada Inches Closer to Earning FIBA World Cup Bid
Canada’s senior men’s national team enjoyed a successful Canada Day long weekend, concluding the opening round of the FIBA Men’s Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers with a pair of wins over the Dominican Republic and U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Canadians received strong contributions from a pair of 18-year-old Ontarians, as former Montverde teammates R.J. Barrett (Mississauga) and Andrew Nembhard (Aurora) were instrumental in helping Canada secure the top spot in Group D.
Canada began the third window of qualifying with a decisive 97-61 win over the Dominican Republic on Friday night in Toronto. Barrett was one of six Canadians to score in double figures, posting 14 points and six rebounds. Nembhard, meanwhile, chipped in with four points and four assists—a modest output by most standards—but it was the teenager’s vision and poise that captured the attention of head coach Jay Triano.
“Andrew just seems unfazed about anything out there. He guards well, controls the offence, the ball moves when he’s out there, he’s a true point guard,” Triano said post-game.
Seven-year NBA veteran, Indiana Pacers guard Cory Joseph (Toronto) also spoke glowingly of Nembhard.
“He’s really impressed me. His decision-making is good,” commented Joseph, who contributed 14 points and eight assists in the win. “He’s been playing really good … He’s kind of that playmaker like myself. He’s very crafty as well … I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people.”
Fans in Ottawa were treated to a dominant performance on Monday afternoon as Canada capped the holiday weekend with a convincing 99-69 win over the U.S. Virgin Islands. Joseph had another strong showing, pacing Canada with 11 points, six assists and six rebounds. Barrett was also effective, tallying 13 points, five rebounds and three assists, while Nembhard matched Joseph’s assist total with six helpers of his own.
Speaking post-game, Barrett, who led Canada to its first-ever gold medal at last year’s FIBA U19 Men’s Basketball World Cup, expressed his excitement about representing his homeland.
“It was great, it was a lot of fun, a lot of positive things, and a lot of things to work on as I’m going onto the next level,” said Barrett of his stint with the senior national team. “Having NBA guys around, NBA coaches around was a great experience.”
Canada finishes the opening round of the Americas Qualifiers for the FIBA Men’s Basketball World Cup 2019 with a 5-1 record and will begin the next qualification phase in September.