Team Manitoba basketball players prepare for strong competition in Summer Games
Canada Summer Games run July 28 to Aug. 13 in Winnipeg
As the point guard for Team Manitoba basketball, Shawn Maranan says his role is all about leadership.
"I think the point guard's job is just to get everyone in their right spots and just to get everyone involved in the game, you know, get their shots," the 16-year-old Sisler High School student said. "Just to be a leader."
"My dad really put me in the league and since then I just fell in love with it," Maranan said. "I have a big family. They all influenced me to play basketball. That's just how it all got started."
Since he qualified his first Canada Summer Games this year in Winnipeg, his family has been his support network, he said, especially his mom and dad.
"They're feeling pretty good. I just want to do it for them, honestly, just make them proud," he said.
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Maranan, has been in the provincial development program for two years and represented Manitoba at the 2015 national championships in Halifax, but he's never been in Canada Games before.
"It's an honour, honestly, just to play against, you know, the best talent in Canada," he said. "It's a good test for me to see where my game is at."
'Never been hotter'
Michele O'Keefe, president of Canada Basketball, said the sport is expected to be competitive at this year's Canada Summer Games, which run July 28 to Aug. 13 in Winnipeg. Team Manitoba will play its first game against Nova Scotia at 7:45 p.m. on July 29.
Last week, Team Canada won the Under 19 World Championships in Egypt — the first time any Canadian team has won a world title in an International Basketball Federation championship.
"Basketball in Canada has never been hotter," O'Keefe said.
"I think it shows that with the growth of our sport and the improvement in the athletes and the coaching and the officiating, I think we've just been able to pull everything together and raise our status on the world stage."
The players on the U19 team are largely too old for the Canada Summer Games teams, which require athletes be under 17 years old by Dec. 31 this year. But O'Keefe said Canada Basketball scouts will be at the Games looking for the members of a future Team Canada.
"Everyone assumes we are a hockey country, and there's no doubt hockey plays a great role in our culture, but basketball was invented by a Canadian," she said. "We've seen some incredible success over the last few years."
Heavy training schedule
To prepare for the Games, Maranan trains four hours a day, seven days a week. He said his whole team is on a similar regimen.
It's the team dynamic that Maranan said he values most about the sport.
"The bond that you have with your friends and teammates, not only on the court but off the court as well. It's just something that's a really good feeling, just to have close friends that you're playing with off the court," he said.
Looking ahead to the Games, he said he thinks his team is ready.
"We've been preparing for a while and I think we're doing pretty good right now," he said.