(Toronto) Nick Norse was about to speak to Canadian NBA players last summer in Las Vegas when Shay Gilgus Alexander interrupted him.
Posted yesterday at 7:07pm.
“He mentioned he had something to say,” the nurse recalls. He got up and said he was going to play. I didn’t even have time to ask the question. Shows his readiness. »
A nurse has asked Canada’s top players, who have often been difficult to identify in previous years, to commit to playing for the national team for the three summers leading up to the Paris Olympics.
Gilgus Alexander hasn’t played for Canada since he was 17 due to his NBA commitments, but three days after the Basketball World Cup qualifiers at his home in Hamilton, the 23-year-old is smiling.
“He was very conscientious and very open about everything and his enthusiasm to play,” a nurse said after training on Tuesday. I heard from him many times how excited he was to be here. »
Canada, who are qualifying 8-0 in two qualifying periods, host the Dominican Republic at the FirstOntario Center on Friday.
This week marks the first gathering of the nurse’s “core” players who are probably the most talented Canadian training group at the OVO Athletic Center, which usually hosts Toronto Raptors practice.
The list includes Gilgus Alexander, point guard Nickel Alexander Walker (Utah Jazz), winger Dwight Powell (Dallas Mavericks) and quarterback Kelly Olinick (Detroit Pistons). RJ Barrett (New York Knicks), Ushai Brissett (Indiana Pacers), Jim Birch (Raptors), Luigi Duart (Oklahoma City Thunder), Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets) and Kevin Bangus (CSKA Moscow) are in camp, but they won’t play during this international window.
“I am committed. It went well and I will be part of the team in the future,” Giljus Alexander said.
Thunder star goalkeeper returns from an ankle injury that has caused him to miss his team’s last 10 games. He was limited to 56 games in 2021-22 due to injuries. Gilgeous-Alexander has been impressive scoring career highs (24.5), steals (1.3) and blocks (0.8) per game and top draw with 5.9 assists.
Gilgeous-Alexander hasn’t played for the same team as his cousin (Alexander-Walker) and hasn’t played for Hamilton since his high school days.
“It will be fun to play with him this time,” Gilgeus Alexander said. We both got a lot better, we should be better tandem. I direct the game more and it shoots. They complement each other perfectly. I am excited to introduce it to the world. »
Gilgus Alexander’s last appearance with the national team dates back to the U-18 Americas Championship in Chile and Canada’s last Olympic qualifier in 2016.
Giljus Alexander said his college offers “exploded” after playing in Canada.
“It definitely worked. I improved a lot. The pace of play was faster and I knew I wanted to play in the NBA. There was no better way to prepare for it than playing against the NBA guys every day,” he insisted.
Compared to other great basketball nations, Canadians have never felt the same sense of pride in playing for the national team. Joseph and Birch were the only NBA players to appear at the 2019 World Cup, from which Canada could have qualified for the 2020 Olympics.
Canada’s shock semi-final defeat to the Czech Republic in last summer’s Olympic qualifiers lit the torch.
“We have a lot of guys that have been there. They really want to get into the international arena and the situation has definitely been painful. It only increased our desire and now that the players are together it is exciting,” Powell said.
Although second only to the United States in the number of players in the NBA, the Canadian men’s team has not competed in the Olympic Games since 2000.
The Canadians travel to the US Virgin Islands for their second game in this window on July 4.
There are six qualifying windows for the Basketball World Cup. The last three matches will take place from August 22-30, November 7-15, and February 20-28. Seven FIBA teams from the Americas will participate in the 32-team World Cup, a direct qualifier for the Paris Olympics.