Western Connection at 40th William Jones Cup
There’s no questioning the fact that basketball grows exponentially in Canada every year. From top NBA draft picks, to the development of the NBL, basketball is really starting to gain some traction in the country that was home to Naismith himself. Part of that growth is due in part to major international tournaments like the William Jones Cup.
With this year being the 40th instalment of the tournament, its inaugural year was in 1977. Named after Renato William Jones, who founded the International Basketball Association (FIBA), the tournament is a yearly event held in Taiwan that sees talent from all over the world duke it out in a two week long fight for international basketball glory. Jones Cup participants usually consist of a national team, a club team that represents the nation, or simply an all-star team.
Canada is normally a participant in these tournaments and have had some impressive appearances in both the men’s and women’s side of things. The men’s team have won six medals in the tournament: two gold and four silver. Their first medal in the tournament came in 1982 when they fell to the United States in the gold medal game (U.S. teams have won the tournament 15 times and has collected 26 medals). They gathered another silver two years later in 1984 when the Americans ousted them yet again in the championship game. Canada’s next medal was of a different colour, as they captured their first gold in 1996 defeating Russia for the championship. They would then capture silver in back-to-back tournaments in 2002 and 2004 (the tournament did not take place in 2003 due to the SARS epidemic). Most recently, the “Canada 150” team was able to capture their second gold medal last year as they beat Lithuania in the championship game. Aside from the Americans, champions have been diverse, as Iran and the Philippines have five golds apiece, while smaller nations such as Jordan have also won the tournament.
On the women’s side, Canadian teams have won three medals but two of them were gold. They first won in 1982 when they defeated the United States' team for gold. They would follow that up three years later with a silver in 1985. The red and white would be held off the podium for nearly 30 years until they finally won gold again in 2014 over Japan. The women’s tournament shows much more parity as South Korea leads the pack with 12 tournament wins, with the U.S and Chinese Taipei winning nine and eight, respectively.
For those who follow Usports basketball, the coaching staff of this year’s 'Boys In Red' team will have some familiar faces. Windsor Lancers’ men’s Head Coach Chris Oliver will man the helm, with his close friend and Head Coach of the Western Mustangs’ men’s hoops squad Brad Campbell working as an assistant. For Campbell, this is the first international coaching opportunity that has come his way. He has been the head coach of the Western Mustangs’ men’s team for 11 seasons, and has won OUA Coach of the Year once. Prior to that, Campbell wore the purple and white as a player in the early 90s, before a knee injury slowed his career down. He has been thoroughly involved with basketball his entire life and now has an opportunity to represent his country in Taiwan for the 40th William Jones Cup.
The Canadian team will consist of a melting pot of talent from all over the nation. From players playing overseas in Europe, to the NBA G-League, to the NBL, the team is as diverse as they come. Logan Stutz plays for the Windsor Express of the NBL and is a former member of the Niagara River Lions. In 2016, Stutz won NBL MVP, and a scoring title in just his first season in the league. He has a wealth of playing experience playing in leagues in Germany, Austria and Japan. He is a native of Blue Springs, Missouri, but will be wearing the red and white in the 40th William Jones Cup. Regulations state that if a player is in the process of becoming a citizen, or has enough ties to the country, then he is eligible to compete. In Stutz’s case, his daughter was born in Canada and he is going through the process of becoming a Canadian citizen. Regardless, he will compete for is new adopted country with hopes of bringing a second straight gold medal back home.
Shaq Keith is one of the few returning members to the Canadian squad for the 40th William Jones Cup. He is a native of Toronto and currently plays for the Windsor Express in the NBL, after he spent time with the Cape Breton Highlanders. He has also spent time with the Toronto Raptors’ G-League development team Raptors 905. He won gold on the Canada 150 team last year, and shot over 48% from the field and averaged over 8 points in 8 games. He will bring his wealth of experience to the international tournament in hopes of guiding the red and white back to the championship.
It’s clear that there’s no shortage of basketball talent available to make a team, but someone still has to organize it all. That’s where 3D Global Sports comes in, as they are a Toronto-based company that provides basketball players with international experience. Along with the Jones Cup, they also send Canadian squads to many other FIBA tournaments at all levels including U-19, and D-League. Teddy Tochev is the founder and CEO of the organization, and takes great pride in what he has been able to accomplish for Canadian basketball. He is a former player himself as he played for the University of Waterloo Warriors and Ryerson Rams. He also has professional experience playing in Bulgaria, where he is a descendant of. He will head over to Taiwan as the manager for the red and white for the 40th William Jones Cup
The tournament is held in New Taipei City, Taiwan, and runs from July 14th-22nd. The Boys In Red will compete against teams representing Iran, Iraq, Korea, Japan, and the Philippines, Chinese Taipei (two teams), and Lithuania. They will look to further cement Canada into the international basketball landscape with another impressive performance, with all the expectations on them.