Yesterday, San Antonio Spurs’ Cory Joseph made his debut for the senior men’s Canadian national team as Canada defeated Belgium, 79 to 74. Although Joseph didn’t make a huge impact on the offensive end, defensively he made his mark as he pestered Belgium guards throughout the game.
It also marked the first time for Joseph got back on the court since being drafted by the Spurs and it was a welcomed relief.
“I hadn’t played in a while, college was a long time ago, (it’s been) a couple months where I haven’t played a game so it’s just good to get out here,” Joseph said.”
But Joseph isn’t the only Spurs player lacing up their sneakers to play for his home country. Many other Spurs international players are hitting the hardwood this summer such as Manu Ginobili for Argentina, and Tony Parker for France. And although some Spurs fans would rather see them rest over the summer, the players know it is a honor to represent their home country including Joseph.
“Playing for your country is an honour and (the Spurs) know that.”
One other member of the Spurs could have joined the Canadian team and that was Matt Bonner. Due to his citizenship status not cleared up in time, Bonner was unable to participate with the team and Joseph jokingly thinks Bonner is jealous.
“I haven’t talked to him, but I’m assuming he’s jealous. He must be.”
All kidding aside, Canada hopes to raise its standing in international play but Canadian head coach Leo Rautins cautions people to not pressure Joseph.
“I think people need to be careful not to put too much pressure on him,” he said.
“He doesn’t have to come in here and (be a) saviour for this team but he gives us something that we need. I love his energy, he pushes the ball and he just gets after it defensively. I love energy guys, he’s fun to be around and I think that rubs off on other guys.”
When the Spurs selected Joseph in the draft many were surprised and were left scratching their heads. Some thought, “Who is this young man who only played one year of college ball and what can he bring to the table?” And while Spurs fans may be keeping a close eye on the young man this summer, remember this – the same can be said for George Hill, Tony Parker, and Ginobili when they were relative unknowns when the Spurs selected them in the draft.