Basketball: Rye's Rana guides Canada to FIBA U17 bronze

Roy Rana, Nathan Schellenberg and Kirby Schepp and their young charges must be feeling good as gold.

Team Canada, coming back in the final 45 seconds, beat Lithuania 83-81 on Sunday to capture the bronze medal at the FIBA U17 men's world championship in Germany. The game details (Olivier Hanlon made up a late four-point deficit with a triple and two go-ahead free throws) are best left to those there.

Suffice to say there is some Canadian grit running through that boxscore. The team, with the Ryerson Rams' Rana as head coach and the Saskatchewan Huskies' Schellenberg and Manitoba Bisons' Schepp as assistants, won with star Anthony Bennett out with injury, as six players scored between 12-15 points. They also forced Lithuania into 18 turnovers and took care of the ball, coughing it up only 10 times.

The U.S. and Poland finished 1-2, so Canada may say its only losses were to teams which finished higher and to the host country, by one point in its first game.

The result makes Canada 3-for-3 in podium finishes at the FIBA level this summer. Each of the under-18 teams won bronze at the FIBA Americas tourneys which are qualifiers for the 2011 junior world championships.

Schellenberg, of course, already celebrated a CIS Final 8 championship with the hoops Huskies in March. The Miami Heat better get him on staff, just to make sure.

A bronze medal at an age-group championship isn't Page 1 news, but people should appreciate it. The win coming on the same day as the final of the FIFA World Cup is a little ironic. . Not There is no questioning the bonafides of the true fans. You just have to wonder at the tourists who act as if they're worldly sports fans for one month every four years, but have no concept of how Canada is making strides in hoops. Come on, FIBA is the other white meat of globally played team sports with quadrennial world championships.

Next on the docket for Canada Basketball is the U17 women's championship, which begins Friday in France. Canada opens against Turkey.

(One odd roster note, since we've talked about the outdated OFSAA basketball rules, is that guard Kellie Ring, the sister of incoming Bishop's guard Scott Ring, is the only Ontarian on the squad. That's a curious stat for the country's most populous province.)
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  1. Winning a bronze at any FIBA World championship, regardless of the age group is an important step for the development of Canadian basketball.
    You might say that this win was a good as a silver because the Americans are on a different level than anyone else.
    It's the US and then the rest of the world is second tier.

  2. Yep, just hope we can up our "conversion rate" of junior-age success to the next level -- something Canada sometimes struggles with at various sports.

    It was a rush to see the FIBA U17 mainpage had a photo of the winning US team, then toggle to a photo of the bronze-winning Canadians.

    Look at this way: The U.S., in general, is making good use of its proximity to Canada to become a better hockey nation (innovations like their residency program, plus the post-Gretzky generation players coming north to play in the Canadian Hockey League).

    No reason we can't tap into the U.S. influence to raise our profile in basketball.

  3. On the other hand, 2/3 of the men's squad is Ontarian by birth and/or by training. It might have been even higher if more of the Ontario kids in US prep schools had chosen to try out instead of kowtowing to their coaches and staying away.

    Women's basketball is not treated anywhere close to the level of men's ball in the GTA (in terms of length of season, # of tournaments, media coverage, student following, sponsorship, recruiting, etc.). That's the reason Ontario is far less represented on the women's side, not OFSAA rules.

  4. Thanks Jason ... I wasn't saying it was the rules, it was more that it's curious we've talked about Ontario being underrepresented among the lady ballers and now it has just 1/12 of the cadette team.

    I'm too lazy to cheque but it was a little better with the U18 women -- Western frosh Laura Dally from Sarnia and Micaelle Riche and Kellie Ring both from Ottawa, to name three.

  5. "It might have been even higher if more of the Ontario kids in US prep schools had chosen to try out instead of kowtowing to their coaches and staying away."

    You're right, Jason.
    That happens a lot with the prep coaches and it really pisses me off.
    What right have these guys to tell a kid not to represent his country?
    Do you think if any of these coaches had a kid who is wanted by Team USA,
    would that coach tell his kid to turn them down?
    Not if he didn't want his name to be mud.
    But if a "foreign" kid wants to go...who cares, you play for us.
    Hypocritical, two faced and short sighted.
    These tournaments undoubtedly help players grow and progress but
    try to tell that to these selfish buggers.