It can be difficult for a team to mold an identity over a short period of time, especially one that includes a diverse combination of international veterans, college standouts, and NBA talent. Two wins over Jamaica and two weeks of practice in Toronto has given Canada's men's basketball team an idea of what they can do on the court together.
"I think we can be great defensively. We're big, we got athletic big men that can contest and change a lot of shots. We're fast at the guard position so we can get up into guys and cause havoc and I think we can be great in transition as well because we're really fast," said point guard Cory Joseph.
As the coaching staff begins to the process of molding the 12-man roster that will play for Canada at the FIBA Americas Championship in Venezuela in late August and early September, Myck Kabongo and Phil Scrubb, the only CIS player participating in training camp, were released.
"They're still part of our basketball pool. Phil had a great summer with us, he's been on teams wearing the Canadian uniform this summer that have gone 17-2," said head coach Jay Triano. "With Myck, we just think he needs a little bit more time and development. He's going to go out to Vancouver and start working with Steve [Nash]. We're going to have Myck go out there and learn how to be a point guard under Steve."
The 15 players that remain in camp left for Orlando, Fla. on Friday for a few more days of practice before four more exhibition games at the Tuto Marchand Continental Cup in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The challenge with the pre-tournament competition that also features Brazil, Argentina, and the Dominican Republic along with Canada and host country Puerto Rico, is that all five teams will be in Venezuela the following week with four spots at the 2014 FIBA World Cup at stake.
"It's a fine line between whether we go out and show all of our stuff and see where we stand or whether we go out and play cat-and-mouse. I'm sure the other teams are trying to figure out the same thing. Maybe we'll get together before the game and say, okay, you try in the first half and we'll try in the second half," said Triano.
The positive is that it gives Canada more opportunities to experiment with its lineups and rotation. Triano admits there are more than a few ways that the team could be ultimately constructed. Of note, veteran forward Carl English, who was kept out of the exhibitions against Jamaica, won't be selected for the final roster if he's not ready to play in the first game of the Tutu Marchand on August 22nd.
"We've discussed [carrying] six bigs, five bigs, even four bigs and being a little quicker and having guys that can rotate in and out. We're going to take and build the team with the best 12 that can help us be successful," said Triano. "It may be position-wise, it may be attitude-wise, it may just be a fit for us or a specific player that bring a skill we might need maybe just one or two games. Picking that 11th or 12th guy is going to be very, very difficult."