June 25, 2010

SCU Incoming Basketball Freshman Part of Canada's U18 Team at 2010 FIBA Americas

Santa Clara incoming freshman Julian Clarke (Toronto, Canada) is playing this week as part of Canada's U18 National Team at the 2010 FIBA Americas Championship in San Antonio, Texas. Canada opened the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship by rolling over Uruguay 76-52 Saturday at St. Mary's University's Greehey Arena in San Antonio. Then on Sunday Canada continued to roll with a 100-83 victory over a scrappy Puerto Rico team in a preliminary round game of the FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Men at Bill Greehey Arena in San Antonio, Texas.

The Canadians (2-0) wrap up group play Monday by taking on Brazil. With the win Canada assured itself a place in this tournament's semifinal round and a trip to next summer's FIBA U19 World Championship as the top four finishers in San Antonio get to punch their ticket to the U19 Worlds next summer.

Prior to the Championship, SantaClaraBroncos.com talked to Clarke (JC) about the road to San Antonio, what the team's goals are and when he will be coming to Santa Clara.

SCU: What was your road to San Antonio? How did you get selected to the team and how many tried out?

JC: There were 18 players invited to tryout camp starting June 11th. We cut down to 14 on June 13th. On June 14th I sprained my ankle and should have been out for three weeks, but I was back on the court by Friday. I still am not 100 percent, but I'm moving way better and I'm playing through any pain, strength and mobility issues. I wanted to show that I'm tough and determined whether playing or rehabbing and it paid off because now I'm in San Antonio!

SCU: Give us a little background on the FIBA Championship. What are you in San Antonio for?

JC: I'm here for the FIBA Americas Tournament to qualify for the World Junior Basketball Championships next summer. I'm playing for Team Canada, and we're in a pool with Uruguay, Brazil and Puerto Rico. I've never been to San Antonio or played in an international tournament. I'm brimming with excitement! This should be a great tournament for Canada if we play the way we can, and I'm looking forward to trying to qualify for the Worlds. Opening ceremonies are tomorrow and that's going to be a lot of fun. 

SCU: What are your team goals in the Tournament?

JC: We scrimmaged the US the other day and won two of the four 10-min mini-games. Our goal is to get to the gold medal game, where we would probably see the USA. We know they will come at us hard and fast but we just have to play our best and see where that takes us.

SCU: Do you have any personal goals in the Tournament?

JC: The main goal I have is just to get as healthy as possible and give all I can to help the team's success. If I were 100 percent healthy I would have more ambitious goals, but right now I just want to do whatever it is I can to help us win, leading on and off the court and working hard to get open and knock down shots when I have the opportunity. I also want to enjoy this experience, as it is the first of (hopefully) many international tournaments. I'm having a great time so far and I am looking forward to the rest of the trip.

SCU: Rising junior Marc Trasolini played in this Tournament prior to his freshman year and Team Canada won a bronze medal. Have you talked to him at all about playing in it? Feel like you are following in the footsteps of Steve Nash, Marc Trasolini, etc.?

JC: I haven't had a chance to speak to Marc, but the coaches all know him and talk about him and they all agree, as do I, that he's a good guy and good teammate. His team won the bronze and we're hoping to take that at least one step further. Our head coach, Greg Francis, played with Bronco alum Steve Nash on the national team and has us told a few stories as well. I feel like I'm following in the footsteps of both of those guys and many others. The future is bright for basketball in Canada and I'm glad to be a part of it.

SCU: When do you come to Santa Clara for school? What are you most looking forward to when you get to Santa Clara?

JC: I'm coming on July 20 and starting summer school on July 26. I'm looking forward to getting to work with all the guys and get close to who's going be my family for pretty much the next four years. I had a great time on my visit and I can't wait to get back and work on my game and put on muscle.

SCU: Have you done anything fun in San Antonio or is it mostly practice, games and meetings? Give us some insight on what you are doing there off the court.

JC: We practiced at the Spurs practice facility today, our last major practice before the tournament, and ended on a great note. For now we've mostly just hung around the hotel and gone to the pool. But as the tournament goes on and we will go about our business. We should be able to go out to the Riverwalk and the Observation Tower and perhaps see a movie as well. The team is a close-knit bunch and has been from the beginning; so team-building exercises aren't necessary because it happened naturally. We're all just trying to enjoy the experience and play our best at the same time to get the most out of this trip.

SCU: Last question: are you watching the World Cup? If so, whom are you pulling for and why?

JC: I'm pulling for Serbia or Brazil. I'm half Serbian and they're also a pretty solid team so I hope they go far. I've always liked Brazil and its samba-style soccer, I've liked them since the likes of Ronaldo and Ronaldhino were running circles around people and they're a very exciting and talented team.