The more things change, the more they stay the same. This was going to be the start of a Canadian basketball revolution – the Canucks were going to take over the game. I wrote as much a few years back for Athlon's college magazine. And yet, here we are once again, on the outside looking in after flaming out of the FIBA Americas Championship and in the process not qualifying for next year's basketball World Cup.
So which basketball luminaries made it over Canada? Mexico (one NBA player, Gustavo Ayon), the Domincan Republic (one NBA player, Francisco Garcia), Puerto Rico (one NBA player, J.J. Barea), and Argentina (one NBA player, Luis Scola). Canada, for those keeping track at home, had four NBA players on its roster (Cory Joseph, Andrew Nicholson, Tristan Thompson, and Joel Anthony – plus Andy Rautins, who had a cup of coffee in the League). But the international game is much different, you argue, and Canada isn't experienced on that level. Coach Jay Triano is extremely experienced internationally, and Jermaine Anderson, Cory Joseph, Jevohn Shepherd, Rautins, Aaron Doornekamp, Levon Kendall, and Anthony all have international experience playing for Canada's top squad.
It is true that the squad was very young (average age of 25.5), and they were missing several key players (the 39-year-old Steve Nash is still the country's best player; Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins the most talented non-NBA player in the world; Anthony Bennett the top pick in this year's NBA Draft; Kelly Olynyk a rare combination of size and talent). But, bottom line, this team should have come top four in the FIBA Americas. They had no business losing to Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. Canada had a huge talent advantage over these teams, as well as players with experience playing in the top league in the world (the NBA) and/or the top leagues in Europe. Their opponents were mostly players from their respective country's not-so-stellar domestic leagues. They are really no excuses for this failure – the team dropped the ball. And, in the process, with no World Cup for the team to compete in next year (unless they are granted a wild card spot), it has set back the program for years in the future. It's not like there is a World Cup or an Olympics run every year.
While it's true that Canada is producing young basketball talent at an unprecedented rate, it means nothing until the country can translate it into actual results on the international court. And, until that time, Canadian basketball fans will continue to say Oh (no), Canada.