More National Teams notes

An encouraging result for our U-17 team from earlier today as the group thoroughly dominated a strong Australian team, especially on the defensive end and really cleaned up their work on the glass, an area in which they clearly fell short in the opening game against France.  Canada will meet the Aussies again for keeps one week from today on Thursday, June 23rd at Noon ET in a game we expect should be available on FIBA TV.  Today’s game showed a marked improvement in how well the ball moved offensively and in how the entire bench contributed.  Looking back on Wednesday’s opening match against the hosts, Canada’s coaching staff was very impressed with the stable of athletes that the French have put together including complementary comments about their ability to play offense; reading the game and taking advantage of where Canada cheated defensively.  The French used their athleticism to attack the rim and the offensive glass, exposing one area of concern for Canada which presently does not have that extraordinary paint-area defender who keeps opponents off the backboards and casts that extra bit of doubt for opponents attacking the rim.  Given their performance against Canada in the first game, expect France to be one of the top teams in Spain when the tournament kicks off in six days.  The French are slated in Group D with China, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Dominican Republic.  Canada’s paint-area presence should be somewhat addressed with the arrival of 6’9″ Simi Shittu, who is on his way to Toulouse, set to arrive Friday evening after Canada’s third exhibition game against Argentina.  By all accounts, Canada’s best player in the first two games thus far has been 6’8″ Danilo Djuricic, the Brampton native who just finished his Grade 10 season with the St. Michael’s Blue Raiders, the legendary Toronto private school, coached by former McMaster Marauder Jeff Zownir.  Djuricic has the skills to play either the 3 or stretch 4 and has dramatically improved his athleticism since last summer – a pair of French players learned this the hard way in the first game when Djuricic hammered home an emphatic dunk that raised more than one eyebrow.  The slick shooting forward has range beyond the three point line and if this article is any indication is looking to improve his skills to be a 3 man at the next level.  The arrival Shittu will bring Canada’s roster to a full 12 players pending the possible arrival of R.J. Barrett (see more below).  The staff has also been impressed with the work of 6’6″ Emmanuel Akot and 6’0″ guard Stefan Smith, who has shown a propensity to consistently knock down open looks, a valuable commodity in international play.  6’7″ Ignas Brazdeikis remains a high-end rotation guy who will be counted upon for big minutes. Many are still expecting 6’5″ R.J. Barrett to end up playing for this team in Spain however that has yet to be finalized as the 16-year old protegee continues to work for a spot in Manila with the Senior team.  Also, in our prior post today outlining the current version of our Senior team making their way to Europe, there was some doubt as to whether or not 6’2″ Cory Joseph was going.  We are being advised that Joseph will make the trip sometime next week, giving our lead guard and leader well-deserved time to rest and get ready for the next few weeks.  We hope to have more in the coming days.


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