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01-08-2018, 10:10 PM
TORONTO -- Jay Triano has set a gruelling summer schedule that will see Canadas mens basketball team play six games in six nights -- in three different countries. It wont be easy. But then again, thats the point. "We want it to be challenging. Youve got to go through these tough times in order to build your team," said Triano, Canadas head coach. The Canadian men failed to qualify for this summers basketball World Cup, and Triano said it was obvious at the qualifying tournament that what his young squad needed was international experience. So Canada Basketball set up this summers European tour that will see the team play 11 games between July 24 and Aug. 12. Among their opponents: five of the worlds top-15 ranked teams. "Were playing Slovenia in Slovenia, Croatia in Croatia, Spain in Spain. . . were going to be in some crazy basketball environments. And its what we need, we need to get these players playing the international game and understanding it a little bit more, when the conditions arent perfect," Triano said. "That was the goal. "We could have a training camp and bring guys in. But these guys train all year round with their respective NBA teams, we wanted to make sure we got more experience playing the games." Among their opponents, the 25th-ranked Canadians will play No. 2 Spain, seventh-ranked Turkey, Serbia (11), Slovenia (13) and Angola (15). Eight of the 11 teams will be using the games as part of their preparation for the World Cup. "The other three -- Italy, Bosnia and Georgia -- are kind like us, theyre playing games to get better and not have an off summer," said Triano, whos also an assistant with the Portland Trail Blazers. The Canadian players will gather in Toronto for a three-day camp, July 20-22 at the Air Canada Centre. With several of Canadas top young players such as Andrew Wiggins and Tyler Ennis gearing up for the June 26 NBA draft, Triano isnt sure who hell have this summer. Wiggins, Ennis, Nik Stauskas, along with several other Canadians hoping to hear their name called in the draft, are currently travelling around the NBA, working out for teams. Theyll head from the draft to play in the NBA summer league. "Its going to be a lot of NBA players on our team. But there are probably four or five guys who are in the draft that we have to wait until they get drafted and then confer with their team and then decide in conjunction with their team and their agents and them whats best for them," Triano said. "Obviously we would love them all to play this summer but we also have to build a relationship with them moving forward and its going to be a busy summer for the guys who are in the draft." Hed like to take a page out USA Basketballs book and have players commit to more than one year. "We cant just all of a sudden, first time they play for our national team, is next summer at the Pan American Games, and then weve got to try to qualify for the Olympics," Triano said. "Were trying to build a basketball program, but we still have to be respectful to the fact that these guys are trying to get their careers on track and trying to do the right thing with the NBA." Triano said hell field his strongest team at next summers Pan Am Games in Toronto. Its perfect preparation for the FIBA Americas qualifying tournament for the Rio Olympics. Plus, its in Toronto, "so thats exciting," he said. With the likes of young stars like Wiggins, coupled with talented NBA players such as Tristan Thompson, Canadian mens basketball could be on the cusp of enjoying unparalleled success. "I would say the only negative is that were just so young. Even our NBA players are very very young players," Triano said -- Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers) is only 23, while Andrew Nicholson (Orlando Magic) is 24. "This summer is a great summer for them, they can play lots of games, and we play in crazy environments like the international game sometimes presents," Triano said. "And well see what we get from that experience and then next summer weve got the Pan Ams here in Toronto and then the Olympic qualifying tournament later in the summer." Canada went 3-4 to finish sixth at last summers FIBA Americas qualifying tournament for the World Cup. One of their victories came against eventual winner Mexico. Triano pointed out his young team was up against the likes of Luis Scola (Argentina/Indiana Pacers), who at 34 years old is well-versed in the international game, and 32-year-old Jack Martinez of the Dominican Republic. "Its just the savvy play," he said. 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