TORONTO (FIBA Americas Championship/FIBA World Cup) - There are positive vibes in Canadian basketball right now and not just because of the women's Olympic team, or the country’s under-17 sides.
Allison McNeill's women reached the London Games via the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Ankara and then made a solid run to the Quarter-Finals.
At the FIBA U17 World Championship in Lithuania (29 June to 8 July), the Canadians came in fifth and then at the FIBA U17 World Championship for Women that was just played in the Netherlands, Canada captured a bronze medal.
Now the men's senior team is a feel-good story, too, because the Canadians are making key appointments that have fueled the enthusiasm of the players.
Canada Basketball have made former NBA MVP Steve Nash the general manager of the men's national side and Jay Triano, as of last week, the coach.
Players, including second-year NBA forward Tristan Thompson of Cleveland, are giddy about the prospects.
The fourth pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, Thompson was among the 27 players to gather in Toronto for an orientation camp that was organized by Nash.
The large number of players to show up was a very good sign.
“It shows guys are starting to get involved," Thompson said.
"Guys are buying in, guys want to see what’s going on with Canada Basketball who’ve never had an opportunity to.”
There was a sense of humility for Thompson and others.
They know what Nash and Triano accomplished in their days with the national team, and they also understand how difficult the international game is.
There are no easy games to be won in the FIBA Americas Championship, a competition that will be staged next year in Venezuela in which Canada will have to do well next year if they are to qualify for the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.
“I hope to gain insight, learn from Coach Triano and Steve,” Thompson had said before the camp.
“I definitely agree with Steve saying the international game did help him and build his career.
“I hope the same happens to us and I’m just excited.”
Triano is very enthusiastic about the opportunity to work with the players.
“To talk to them about how excited they are to represent Canada, it’s energizing,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to getting on the court with them.”
The Canadians to attend the camp were Braeden Anderson, Jermaine Anderson, Joel Anthony, Jordan Baker, Khem Birch, Junior Cadougan, Aaron Doornekamp, Justin Edwards, Brady Heslip, Cory Joseph, Devoe Joseph, Kris Joseph, Myck Kabongo, Owen Klassen, Trey Lyles, Andrew Nicholson, Kelly Olynyk, Kevin Pangos, Dyshawn Pierre, Dwight Powell, Laurent Rivard, Robert Sacré, Philip Scrubb, Jevohn Shepherd, Nick Stauskas, Tristan Thompson and Kyle Wiltjer.