There is no question and there hasn’t been one for years that this new FIBA qualification process for basically every major basketball tournament is goofy.
And here we go again.
It’s the Canadian men against Dominican Republic tonight in Oshawa —the game’s been moved to the Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre at the Ontario Tech University and Durham College because of issues with the arena there — in the first game of (get this!) a year-long process to eliminate one of four teams from a first-round group to qualify for the 2021 FIBA AmeriCup tournament.
Four teams — Canada, Dominican Republic, Cuba and U.S. Virgin Islands — to determine three spots in basically a continental championship that means little and won’t be played until after qualifying “windows” of this weekend, this November and net February.
Clear as mud, right?
For this, Basketball Canada has had had to search far and wide to find a group of 12 willing athletes to leave their clubs to play a couple of games — here tonight, Monday in Santo Domingo — with very little chance many of them will be in the actual tournament in a year and half or so.
It is to their overwhelming credit that they have agreed to drop everything in their professional careers to do this and if you know any of the players on the roster, please find a way to thank them from me for their service to their country and their sport.
They can’t be thanked enough, nor can the coaches.
And if you get the chance and can get out to watch the game, I’d urge you to. It’ll be a good Canadian team full of guys who deserve some kind of public support and a good, full house would be a way to show some level of appreciation.
How, this event has nothing whatsoever to do with the Olympics or even the 2023 World Cup. It’s the one-off continental championship that’s nice but hardly a major international event; if Canada can’t qualify, it needs to seriously re-examine the whole program but since we won’t know that for another year, it’s hardly worth talking about.
But the game’s on and FIBA’s gonna do what FIBA’s gonna do and they have to play it, whether we think it makes sense or not.
Which it doesn’t.
All right, there’s actually an NBA game here tonight — remember the Raptors? — even though it’s not going to be a full Raptors team.
It’s still a game and it’ll be nice to see one for the first time in about 10 days.
The best thing: Even though Phoenix isn’t a horrible team, the Suns still aren’t great and it’ll be nice to get any rust knocked off before two major tests — Indy here Sunday, Milwaukee here Tuesday — gets the unofficial second half underway.
We’ll be back here in the morning with the usual post-game Three Pointers but that’ll be it for me Saturday since it’s got to be a full TEB day.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of your mailbag responsibilities and click on firstname.lastname@example.org and send some stuff for me to do Sunday morning.
Go Leafs, Go!
Okay, maybe that’s a stretch but the glorious triumph last night at least eased some of the pain that’s been prevalent of late and took some of the pressure off the next day or two.
It’s funny, though.
Watching people — and not just fans — react so emotionally and differently one day to the next has been fascinating, and will be fascinating as, I suspect, this team lurches like a late-night drunk walking down the sidewalk to the end of this season.
Get more basketball insight in your inbox
Get Doug Smith’s weekly email newsletter on all things Raptors and beyond and satisfy your craving.
Sign Up Now
Win one, lost two, win three, lose two, win two, lose one; each more important than the last.
As an entirely dispassionate observer, it’s fun to watch.
I do think, however, there is one point that should stand out more than all others.
And that’s that teams are living, breathing organisms and, sometimes, they don’t work.
It might not be because of public warring or even the private disputes and “issues” that teams across the spectrum of sports try to keep out of the public eye.
It’s not talent sometimes, either. And perhaps it’s not even accepting of roles, which can often bring about a squad’s demise regardless of the sport.
Sometimes they just don’t work because of some mystical, unknown reason that can never be explained.
A combination of all those things: Skill, professional jealousies, private jealousies, coaching, individual backgrounds.
Something that’s really unexplainable.
I’m not saying the Leafs — at least this incarnation of the Leafs — is like that because I’m not nearly close enough to have a fully formed opinion.
But I do think — and this comes from observing from afar and reading the men and women whose opinions I respect — that there’s something amiss in this mix.
They seem to have many very good players, they’ve now run through two seemingly diametrically opposed coaches, they have overcome injuries and have said all the right things when they’ve needed to be said.
Yet here they are. Life and death to even qualify for the playoffs when it appeared before the season began that they might have a legitimate shot at playing deep into the post-season.
It’s like I was telling a buddy just yesterday:
Sometimes teams just don’t work.
For no rhythm and for no reason.
And they fail.
And you have to change the team.