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Canada has tough day in international basketball, tennis

Posted on July 10, 2016

From London to Manila, it was a rough Sunday morning for Canada in international sports.

Steve Nash’s bid to return to the Olympics, this time as Canadian team general manager, was dashed as France defeated Canada 83-74 in the Philippines in the final of the last-chance men’s basketball qualifier for the 2016 Rio Summer Games.

Canada has not been to the Olympics in men’s hoops since Victoria’s Nash, a two-time NBA MVP, captained Canada at the 2000 Sydney Summer Games. Veteran NBA guard Tony Parker proved too crafty for Canada on Sunday as France advanced to Rio and Canada’s so-called Golden Generation, being marshalled internationally by SMUS-grad Nash and head coach Jay Triano, was left to contemplate Tokyo 2020.

It was also France that ended point-guard Nash’s and Canada’s dreams in the quarter-finals at Sydney 2000.

Meanwhile, Milos Raonic, the first Canadian to play in the Wimbledon men’s final, could not become the first Canuck male to win a Grand Slam title and fell to Andy Murray of Great Britain 6-4, 7-6, 7-6.

“This one is going to sting. I’m going to make sure . . . that I do everything I can to be back here for another chance,” said Raonic in his TV interview following the final. Despite the loss, the Raonic effect in tennis is being felt across Canada.

“Milos Raonic is only 25 and hitting his prime. It’s only a matter of time until he becomes the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam title,” said Robert Bettauer, tennis analyst for Sportsnet and CEO of the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence on the Camosun College Interurban campus.

“Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard are helping build the sport across Canada,” said Bettauer, the Rio Olympic tennis analyst for CBC TV next month.

“Our summer junior tennis program, beginning Monday at PISE, is overflowing. It’s the same across the country. And the clay courts that are coming to Bear Mountain are going to add to our ability to produce and enhance Canadian talent on the most common surface [clay] in the world.”

But that is a story for another day. Bettauer acknowledged that Sunday belonged to Murray. “Andy Murray was a man on a mission and at the peak of his game,” said Bettauer.

“It’s not that Milos didn’t play well. It was that Andy Murray was outstanding and played brilliantly.”

Story by: Cleeve Dheenshaw