Tristan Thompson says best is yet to come for Canada
Canada have yet to realize their immense potential in the international game but it seems only a matter of time before that happens.
The Canadians were third at the 2015 FIBA Americas Championship and runners-up at the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Manila. This summer (August 25-September 3), Canada will be among the favorites to win the FIBA AmeriCup.
Star forward Tristan Thompson talked about the promising future of Canadian basketball to FIBA.com.
Players like Andrew Wiggins, Cory Joseph, Kelly Olynyk, you and all the talented players in European leagues give Canadian basketball a lot of hope that success will eventually come for the national team. How do you see it?
We are still pretty young, but at the same time, we also haven’t been able so far to all play together due mostly to contract situations that each player faces when renewing deals during the summer. It’s been tough. When we're able to all play together, we'll be really good, I am confident about this. We want to do great things with the national team, competing at the highest level in every tournament, FIBA Americas, World Cups and to be at the 2020 Olympics.
One of those players that wasn't at the OQT in Manila last year because he wanted to focus on training and getting ready for the 2016-17 season was Wiggins. How do you assess his season so far with the Minnesota Timberwolves?
He is playing very well. He's been working on his shot and I am a big fan of his. He keeps pushing hard every day and he's going to be an NBA star and an important player for the present and the future of the national team.
Last year's NBA title with Cleveland and your overall success has made you an example for young Canadian players to follow. How do you view that responsibility?
I have to do the right things both on and off the court. I like to go back home and be the face of the community where I grew up. It’s important to give back and help the others. I am very proud to be an example for the young guys in Canada and Toronto alongside Cory Joseph.
When you grew up in Toronto, who was your idol?
(Former Toronto Raptor and USA guard) Vince Carter, definitely. He is the reason why I play basketball. He is my Michael Jordan. By growing up in Canada, I watched the Raptors from day one and you want to do the same things as the guys you watch on TV. Having the Raptors in Toronto helped a lot with the growth of basketball in the country. Having an NBA team is a great factor in turning basketball into a popular sport. All the kids growing up now and guys like Andrew Wiggins, Cory Joseph, Kelly Olynyk and myself, for example, were inspired by watching those Raptor players.