Oshawa, Milton, Pickering basketball stars to lead Canada at U19 FIBA World Cup


Published June 23, 2023 at 8:34 am

Elijah Fisher in action for Canada. Photo: Canada Basketball

Canada’s U19 FIBA World Cup squad will try to improve on their bronze medal performance from 2021 – and match their historic gold medal from the 2017 tournament – when they hit the hardwood in Hungary Saturday for the first game of the 2023 championships.

Back for another go in the competition is Oshawa phenom and Texas Tech soon-to-be-sophomore Elijah Fisher, who averaged 6.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per game as an underager in 2021 and head coach Patrick Tatham will likely rely on the shooting guard again – especially after he was a major leader on the team at the FIBA U18 Americas Championship 2022.

Center Michael Nwoko of Milton nearly averaged a double-double last summer and his 6’11” frame should be a difficult force to handle in the post. Add to that 7-foot-8 giant Olivier Rioux – yup, you read that stat right – and 7-foot center Cyril Martynov and Canada will have plenty of quality big men to choose from.

With shooting ace TJ Hurley, David Simon – the BioSteel Player of the Year award as Canada’s top high school player – and Pickering’s Jahari Williamson, the Canadians should be able to score in bunches, too.

They’ll need all that in Saturday’s opener when the sixth-ranked team takes on Spain, ranked second in the world behind perennial power USA.

Fourth-ranked France and 12th-seeded China is also in Canada’s ‘group of death’ at the tournament, which concludes July 2 in Debrecen, Hungary.

Patrick Tatham will take the helm as Canada’s head coach after leading both the U17 and U18 men’s age-group teams last summer. Joining Tatham on the bench are Justin Serresse, Nathan Grant and Craig Beaucamp.

All 16 teams participating in the event will advance to the competition’s Final Phase with a single-elimination format in place from the Round of 16 onwards.

Canada has been no stranger to the podium in recent renditions of the tournament, with Canada’s gold medal in 2017 serving as the country’s first gold in an international FIBA competition. R.J. Barrett’s 38 points helped Canada to a 99-87 semifinal victory over the United States, before defeating Italy 79-60 in the gold medal game.

Led by the likes of Zach Edey, Ryan Nembhard, Caleb Houstan and Fisher, Canada won its second-ever medal at a U19 Men’s World Cup in 2021. Canada went 6-1 in the competition and defeated Serbia 101-92 in the bronze medal game.

Canada have reached at least the quarter-finals in the last five U19 World Cups.

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