Basketball: U of A's Francis pilots Canada into FIBA U19 quarters

People should be positive about Canadian hoops no matter what curveballs get thrown at a summer sport in a hockey-first country. The way incoming Alberta coach Greg Francis' charges have pulled it together, making it to the quarter-finals of the FIBA U19 championship in Auckland, New Zealand, is definitely rousing. Like the coach himself said after today's 10-point win over Argentina, which put Team Canada into Friday's quarter-final vs. Team USA (gulp, but nevertheless):
"Now we get to play in the quarter finals of a FIBA World Championship, and that’s a good thing for Canada."
Point guard Cory Joseph (younger brother of Devoe Joseph, a sophomore guard with Minnesota in the Big Ten) had his second efficient 20-point night (9-for-14 shooting) and Gonzaga-bound wing Mangisto Arop hooped 18. As so often happens with a Canadian national team in a non-ice-based sport, there's always a twist. Canada was a missed three-point shot from coming out ahead in a three-way tie-breaker with Argentina and Spain and avoiding a quarter-final matchup vs. the Americans. (All three teams ended up 3-3; Canada was plus-3 in the head-to-head matchups, Argentina was plus-7 and Spain was minus-10).

Learned hoops chroniclers such as the Toronto Star's Doug Smith have said there are great things starting to happen with Canada Basketball, notwithstanding the loss of the National Elite Development Agency. Canada's been in every game at the U19s; they were in the game all the way in their losses to Australian, Croatia and Spain. A basket here, a stop there, you know.

Who knows how it will shake out Friday vs. Team USA. The Americans should always win a major basketball tourney, but hey, Canada gets to take a shot on Friday. That's a building block.

Smith has been posting each morning on the team at his blog and Gregg Drinnan at Taking Note has been having regular e-mail exchanges with Canada forward Kelly Olynyk, who will be joining Arop and Vancouver swingman Bol Kong at Gonzaga in a few weeks.

Composed Canada move through (
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  1. Great news for Canadian Basketball, too bad T.S.N. and Sportsnet or THE SCORE dont cover any of these games. I am so fed up with Canadian obsession with hockey. Every age and level seems to get coverage and when a very talented Canadian Basketball Team makes some noise at a highly prestigious tourney like this these networks are no where to be found...What gives???? I hope the Junior men win Gold and rub it in TSN, SPORTSNET AND THE SCORES Faces to show them what they missed. I am disgusted with the media in this country

  2. Ah yes, good old TSN.
    Of course, you know what TSN stands for, don't you?
    The Shinny Network!
    All Bob MacKenzie, all the time.