Summer Roundup: Ontario Athletes Thrive with Canadian National Program
Boasting a strong contingent of Ontario athletes, the Canadian Men’s and Women’s national teams enjoyed a successful summer of international competition, including a pair of silver medals earned by the U18 Men’s and Women’s teams.
Find out below about each national team’s performance and the Ontario athletes that stood out this summer.
U18 Men’s National Team
Playing on home soil, Canada earned a silver medal at the FIBA U18 Men’s Americas Championship in St. Catharines from June 10–16.
Canada fell to Team USA, 113-74, in the gold medal final on June 16.
The team’s final roster featured 11 Ontario athletes, including four players from the OSBA.
Canada was paced offensively by incoming Florida freshman Andrew Nembhard (Aurora), who was named a Tournament All-Star after averaging 15.7 points, 8.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game.
In six games, Canada compiled a 5-1 record, with the team’s lone defeat coming from a star-studded USA squad in the final.
Canada currently ranks second in the FIBA Youth Men’s Rankings.
U18 Women’s National Team
Canada’s U18 Women’s National Team also collected some hardware this summer, claiming silver at the 2018 FIBA U18 Women’s Americas Championship in Mexico, contested from August 1–7.
The Canadians were defeated by Team USA, 84-60, in the gold medal game on August 7.
Canada has finished second in each of the last three FIBA U18 Women’s Americas Championships, earning silver in Valdivia, Chile in 2016 and two years earlier in Colorado Springs, USA.
Dating back to 2010, the United States have won five consecutive gold medals at the FIBA U18 Women’s Americas Championships.
The leading Ontarian was Christina Morra (Mississauga), who was named a Tournament All-Star after averaging 14.5 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. Morra was joined on the roster by four other Ontario athletes, including three fellow OSBA representatives: Justina King, Julia Chadwick (Durham Elite), Sammie Martin (Southwest Academy) and Keishana Washington (Durham Elite).
This past season, Morra was named an OSBA First Team All-Star for her performance with King’s Christian Collegiate.
Canada is currently ranked fourth in the FIBA Youth Women’s Rankings.
U17 Men’s National Team
Canada’s U17 Men’s National Team finished fourth at the 2018 FIBA U17 Men’s Basketball World Cup in Argentina, staged from June 30 to July 8.
Canada fell to Puerto Rico, 90-77, in the bronze medal game on July 8.
After helping Canada earn a silver medal at the FIBA U18 Men’s Americas Championship in St. Catharines, Milton native Addison Patterson emerged as a vital contributor for Canada’s U17 squad, posting averages of 17.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
Canada’s 12-person roster featured nine Ontario athletes, plus six players from the OSBA.
The fourth-place finish represents Canada’s best result at the event since 2010—the inaugural iteration of the tournament—when they took home a bronze medal.
Additionally, longtime Team Ontario coach and Ontario Basketball Men’s Technical Lead Jason Dawkins served as an assistant coach with Canada’s U17 squad.
U17 Women’s National Team
Canada’s U17 Women’s National Team placed ninth at the 2018 FIBA U17 Women’s Basketball World Cup in Belarus, which took place from July 21-29.
Canada capped the tournament with a 58-50 victory over Mali during the final day of competition on July 29.
The Canadians won their first two games of the tournament before dropping their next two decisions, including a 72-50 loss against Spain in the Round of 16 on July 25.
The team proceeded to win its final three classification games by an average margin of 14.3 points per game.
Of the seven Ontario athletes invited to training camp, five were selected to the team’s final roster: Aaliyah Edwards, Makayla Ennis (TRC Academy), Rebecca Marzan Demeke (Durham Elite), Merissah Russell (Capital Courts) and Aerial Wilson (TRC Academy).
Visit the Canada Basketball website for the full team roster, including coaching staff.
A 2017-18 OSBA All-Star, Russell (Ottawa) emerged as a key contributor for Canada, averaging 11.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.
Head coach Jodi Gram has strong ties with Ontario Basketball; Gram currently coaches Bill Crothers’ Women’s prep team (OSBA) and she was previously head coach of Team Ontario.
Senior Men’s National Team
Canada’s Senior Men’s National Team compiled a 4-0 record this summer, capping their brief schedule with victories over the Dominican Republic and U.S. Virgin Islands to close out the opening round of the FIBA Men’s Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers.
Boasting a roster infused with NBA talent, Team Canada tipped off its summer festivities by sweeping China in the inaugural Pacific Rim Classic in British Columbia. The team then travelled to Toronto, where they resumed the first phase of qualifying with a 97-61 win over the Dominican Republic on June 29. Finally, the Canadians concluded their summer tour by securing top spot in Pool D with a resounding 99-69 victory over the U.S. Virgin Islands on July 2 in Ottawa.
Perhaps the biggest storyline emanating from the men’s national team revolved around the impressive debuts of R.J. Barrett (Mississauga) and Andrew Nembhard (Aurora).
In four games as a starter, Barrett, 18, averaged 16 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. Possessing a diverse skill set, Barrett displayed little trepidation throughout his first stint with Canada’s senior national program.
Barrett headlines a star-laden Duke recruiting class that features the No. 1-, 2- and 3-ranked prospects in the Class of 2018. The high-flying Canadian prodigy turned heads in August when he returned to his hometown of Mississauga for a pair of exhibition games as part of Duke’s pre-season Canadian tour.
Nembhard, meanwhile, was equally impressive, occupying a prominent role as Canada’s backup point guard behind veteran NBA floor general Cory Joseph (Toronto). The Montverde product displayed excellent playmaking prowess, posting a balanced stat line of 6.3 points, 3.5 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game.
Canada’s Senior Men’s National Team will begin the second round of FIBA World Cup qualifying on September 13 against Brazil at the Place Bell in Laval, Que.
Tickets for Team Canada’s September 13 game against Brazil can be purchased online through Ticketmaster.
Senior Women’s National Team
The Canadian Women’s National Team is currently immersed in final preparations for the upcoming 2018 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup in Spain, coming up September 22–29.
Canada will host training camp in Toronto from August 30 to September 4 before tipping off the World Cup on September 22 against Greece.
New York Liberty guard Kia Nurse (Hamilton) is one of three WNBA players on the roster, joining fellow Ontario athletes Natalie Achonwa and Kayla Alexander, both members of the Indiana Fever.
In total, nine Ontario athletes will participate in the team’s third and final phase of training camp.
A native of Dundas, national team head coach Lisa Thomaidis has been at the helm of Canada’s Senior Women’s squad since 2013 and has led the Canadians to a pair of medal finishes, including a gold medal triumph at the 2015 Pan-American Games.
As part of the team’s preparations for the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup, Canada collected a pair of victories over Turkey in the Edmonton Grads Classic and also travelled to Japan where they participated in a four-game Asia Exhibition Series.
Equipped with a deep and talented roster, Thomaidis is optimistic about Canada’s chances heading into the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup.
“This is an exciting time for our women’s national team,” commented Thomaidis in a release via Canada Basketball. “We are looking forward to starting training camp with the deepest talent pool we’ve had in recent memory.”
Added Thomaidis, “With many of our athletes playing in the best leagues in the world, we are excited to get everyone together to prepare to represent Canada with pride and passion at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup.
Canada qualified for this year’s World Cup after winning their second consecutive FIBA Women’s AmeriCup title last summer.
Canada currently sits alongside Greece, Korea and France in Group A.