Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada Chooses Young Basketball Teams for Gold Coast Commonwealth Games

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada Chooses Young Basketball Teams for Gold Coast Commonwealth Games

Article excerpt

Canada basketball teams ready for Gold Coast

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The basketball adventure continues for Mambi Diawara and David Kapinga.

Just 15 days after leading the University of Calgary to its first ever national men's basketball title, the two leave Monday for Australia and the Commonwealth Games. They will be joined by Ryerson's Manny Diressa and Jean-Victor Mukama, who finished runner-up in a tight 79-77 U-Sports final.

The four players combined for 86 points in the title game, with Kapinga named championship MVP.

Catherine Traer, who helped Carleton to the women's U Sports crown, will also be boarding a plane Monday with the women's Commonwealth Games team.

With an eye to the future, Canada is sending young basketball squads to the Gold Coast Games, which run April 4 to 15. With the NBA and many other pro leagues in session and with March Madness underway, the timing of the Games was awkward. Australia's requirement for visas added to the complications when it came to planning.

Canadian men's coach Kirby Schepp, whose day job is head coach at the University of Manitoba, has chosen an all U Sports roster in looking to see who can compete at the next level.

"We're definitely a young group but our athleticism is good and I think we'll definitely get up and down the court," said Schepp, who has spent the last eight summers as part of Canada Basketball's coaching staff. "We'll certainly be able to put some pressure on the ball and get after people a little bit.

"We'll see how it all kind of shakes out. Our youth could help us in some way and hurt us in some ways but I'm hoping it can help us with certainly our style of play."

Some have already represented Canada.

UBC forward Grant Shephard was a member of the squad that won the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup 2017 in Cairo. Carleton guard Munis Tutu was part of the team that won silver at the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Colorado Springs. Schepp was part of that coaching staff.

Kapinga, Diawara, Manitoba's Justus Alleyn, UBC's Conor Morgan and Acadia's Erik Nissen were all on Canada's team for the 2017 Summer Universiade in Taiwan.

Steve Baur has taken a different route with the Games women's squad. His roster draws on U Sports, Europe, NCAA, Canadian college and even high school ranks.

"Our main objective in forming the roster were athletes that we have targeted for either 2020 or 2024 Olympic teams," said Baur, an assistant coach with the senior women's national team. "We're using this as an evaluation period. To get a chance to get some time with them and see them against other pro athletes from different countries."

The youngsters include 16-year-old Merissah Russell and 17-year-old Niyah Becker.

Russell is a forward from Ottawa who has played for Canada's under-15 and under-16 teams. Becker, a forward from Winnipeg who has played for the national U17 squad, is headed to the University of Utah from Hamilton's Lincoln Prep.

Ruth Hamblin, a former Oregon State Beaver who has played professionally in Australia and France, and Shay Colley of Michigan State were part of the senior team last summer that qualified for the world championships.

Danielle Boiago, a former McMaster star, played pro in Europe but became available when she parted ways with her Dutch club. …

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