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Canada's Scrubb proving to be a winner
CHALON-SUR-SAONE (2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments) - Canada guard Philip Scrubb does not seek the spotlight. He's about as humble as they come in professional basketball.
Yet the Vancouver-born player often finds himself in the big games at important moments, be it for club or country. He enhanced his prospects of being in Canada's national team this summer when he played significant minutes for Fraport Skyliners over the weekend in France at the FIBA Europe Cup.
After shining in a win over BC Enisey on Friday night, Scrubb, who joined the German team at the start of the year from AEK Athens, came off the bench and injected pace, tough defense and timely shooting in a narrow title triumph over Pallacanestro Varese.
Scrubb, his uniform soaked in Champagne after celebrating in the immediate aftermath with his teammates, tried to play down his impact.
"I knew right when I got here this was a great team and even without me, I think they would have won it," he said. "I'm blessed to be a part of this team and I just appreciate being around these teammates and coaches."
Scrubb is just as modest about his contributions when it comes to Canada's national team. The 23-year-old shows not a hint of self-importance when asked about his experience with Canada at last year's FIBA Americas Championship in Mexico City.
"I was just backing up Cory (Joseph)," he said. "Whenever he needed a break, I came in."
Scrubb then laughed, claiming he had an easy job.
The Vancouver native says he's thankful for the opportunity to have run up and down the floor with household names in Canada basketball. Olynyk, Joseph and Wiggins are all in the NBA. Scrubb does say he is hoping that he'll be in the mix for a spot in the Canada team that is going to play at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Manila.
Jay Triano's team will play against Turkey and Senegal in Group A and then, if they advance, take on a Group B side - France, the Philippines or New Zealand - in a Semi-Final. The winners of the Semi-Finals will ultimately square off on 10 July for a spot in the Rio de Janeiro Games.
"I don't know who we'll be bringing to camp but we'll probably be figuring that out later in the summer," Scrubb said. "I really hope to be a part of that team. We've got a tough group with France and Turkey but I think we've got a lot of good players and we're confident right now. I think we built a lot last summer with all of the guys coming and playing. I think if everyone's together and play well, we've got a good shot."
If Scrubb does not blow his own trumpet, the statistics do. At the FIBA Americas Championship, he was not a bit-part player, averaging 17 minutes per game and shooting 48 percent (12 of 25) from behind the 3-point line.
On Sunday, Fraport were out of sync and on the ropes with 1:20 remaining in the third quarter when Scrubb resuscitated their title chances with a momentum-changing 3-pointer that cut into an 11-point Pallacanestro Varese lead. Then a couple of minutes later, in the fourth quarter, Scrubb again connected from behind the arc to cut Fraport's advantage to 47-44.
"I was open and I had missed a bunch of shots before," he said. "I knew I had to shoot it and they went in. I wouldn't get those open shots without my teammates. They draw so much attention, I just had to stand outside and shoot. I guess I just got lucky they went in."
There simply is not, when it comes to Scrubb, a hint of arrogance. Yet there could be. After leaving Vancouver College, where he played for coach Bill Disbrow, he had an outstanding career playing basketball at Carleton University.
Yet he is grounded. He has not gotten carried away with his own celebrity, despite having enjoyed an outstanding career there.
Scrubb does admit that he is a better player for all of the experience he has gained with Canada's national team program, and especially from last summer.
It's pretty cut throat out there and if you're not going to be ready to play in practice, in a tryout or a game, you can lose your spot pretty quickly. - Scrubb
"I just came out and wanted to be competitive," Scrubb said of last summer with Canada. "That's something that I learned. I struggled a few times with the national team and didn't play as well. I figured this time I would leave it all out there and if I fail, I'll know that I tried my best."
Canada very nearly made it to the Olympics last summer but they fell to Venezuela at the death in their Semi-Final. The team did show plenty of grit and determination by bouncing back in the Third-Place Game. They won against hosts Mexico with a Joseph shot at the buzzer.
"I think after a tough loss like that, if you can bounce back and win a medal in that tournament, it's really great," Scrubb said. "Again, we lost a tough game but we're a really young team. Even if this Olympics doesn't work out, I think at the next one, we'll be one of the best teams in the world."