Head coach Triano has the talent, just needs senior men's basketball team to mesh | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Head coach Triano has the talent, just needs senior men's basketball team to mesh

June 20, 2018 - 2:23 PM

VANCOUVER - Head coach Jay Triano believes he has all the right pieces. The task ahead is figuring out how they fit together.

Triano is overseeing a two-day training camp before Canada's national men's basketball team faces China in a pair of games in preparation for its next round of World Cup Americas qualifying. The first game in the Pacific Rim Basketball Classic will be Friday night at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. The teams play again Sunday at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria.

The series will allow Canada to find its legs before World Cup qualifying resumes with games against the Dominican Republic June 29 at Toronto's Ricoh Coliseum and the U.S. Virgin Islands July 2 at Ottawa's TD Place Arena.

Among the 15 attending the camp are NBA regulars like Kelly Olynyk of the Miami Heat and Dillon Brooks of the Memphis Grizzlies, plus players from the NBA G-League and teams in Europe. Also attending are high school stars R.J. Barrett of Mississauga, Ont., and Andrew Nembhard of Aurora, Ont.

"We have some young players," Triano said after practice Wednesday. "We have two young kids that are just getting their feet wet with our national team, but they are going to be a part of our program for a long, long time.

"The games here we are going to try to figure out combinations and who can help us when we go back to Toronto for the qualifying games. It will be a little bit of experimentation. At the same time, we are going to try to win games and see who fits."

Olynyk, the seven-foot centre who grew up in Kamloops, B.C., said everyone at the camp has proven they can play the game. Now they must get comfortable playing together.

"It just doesn't happen over night," Olynyk, who finished his first season of a four-year, US$50-million contract with Miami. "A bunch of us have played together before and that helps.

"It's just trying to do it as quickly as possible, not make things too complicated, keep things pretty simple. For us it's about getting quality time rather than quantity."

The games will be Barrett's first with the senior team. The six-foot-seven guard helped lead Canada to an upset win over the U.S. in last year's FIBA U19 World Cup semifinal en route to a championship.

There already is speculation he could be the top pick in the 2019 NBA draft even before he's played a game with NCAA powerhouse Duke University.

Rowan Barrett, the assistant GM and executive vice-president of Canada Basketball's senior men's program, said his son will face a steep learning curve playing with the national team.

"I expect it to be very difficult," said Barrett. "You have grown men out here on the court who do this for a living and have been doing it for a number of years. The speed of the game is different, the physicality of the game is different. I expect this to be a challenge."

R. J. Barrett was not made available for interviews Wednesday.

One star not at the camp is Andrew Wiggins, the first-overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft who went on to win rookie of the year with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Triano believes his still has plenty of talent to select a team.

"We've got a lot of good players in our country," said Triano. "If somebody can't make it, if somebody doesn't play, the depth is why we're a strong contender to be pretty darn good."

Canada has a 3-1 record in Group D of the American Qualifiers which also consists of the Bahamas, Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Each team faces the other three teams on a home and away basis with the top three teams from each group advancing to the second round.

Canada can secure first place in the group by beating the Dominican Republic by at least 12 points and scoring a win over the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The next round of qualifying continues with games in September, November and February 2019.

The FIBA Basketball World Cup will be played Aug. 31 to Sept. 15, 2019. It will be the largest edition of the tournament with a record 32 participating teams playing 92 games over 16 days.

The last time Canada qualified for the World Cup was 2010.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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