MHP Riesen's Peter-McNeilly geared up for Canada's World Cup Qualifiers
NASSAU (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers) - Good things happen to those who work hard and focus on what's in front of them.
Adika Peter-McNeilly of Canada is a testament to that. A star at Ryerson University, where he competed for coach Roy Rana, Peter-McNeilly spent his days with the Rams concentrating on getting better and helping his team win games. The idea of playing professionally wasn't something that consumed him, at least not until the end of his career there.
"I had no clue," said Peter-McNeilly, who is now in the Caribbean preparing with Canada's national team for World Cup Qualifiers against the U.S. Virgin Islands on Thursday and against the Bahamas on Sunday.
"I was just focused on Ryerson so much, and playing the four years there and going as far as I could with the team. But I used to talk a lot with my coach Roy and he said, 'You have an opportunity to play (professionally)' and I didn't believe it at first. As the year went on, though, I gained confidence and kind of looked at what my next year was going to be like so was like, 'Yes, let's do it.'
He signed last summer with MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in Germany's Basketball Bundesliga (BBL).
"It's a good situation for me," the 24-year-old said. "The town I'm in is amazing, the people are amazing, the organization is amazing. The level of competition is something that pushes me every single day.
"Coming from university to professional, that was kind of a wake-up call and you kind of get thrown into the water a little bit but I adjusted well. My teammates are good, our coaching staff does a good job of getting us ready for games."
Right now his focus is on helping Canada strengthen their bid for World Cup qualification. Peter-McNeilly, who represented his country at the 2015 Summer Universiade, is keen to help out.
"I'm willing to do whatever it takes to win the game," he said. "I'll dive for a loose ball, take a charge, make shots. It doesn’t matter what the scoresheet says, at the end of the day it’s about winning."
Peter-McNeilly at the 2015 Summer Universiade (photo by Mathieu Belanger)
Canada won one of their two games in the November Qualifiers under Rana but his commitments at Ryerson prevented him from holding the reins in the February window. Canada reached out to veteran Gordie Herbert of Fraport Skyliners, one of MHP Riesen's foes, and he agreed to coach the team.
"I played against him twice in the BBL," Peter-McNeilly said of Herbert. "He's a really good guy and is open to feedback, two-way communication, and I like that."
As for the pressure of representing his country?
"There is no pressure," Peter-McNeilly said. "You just go out there and play basketball. The moment you start thinking about pressure, the moment you tighten up. We've all played with each other before, we know each other's games. We're all confident.
"We just come to practice, learn, get the stuff from the coaching staff, how we're going to prepare for the games, win the games. We're all focused. We came here with the one idea, to get the two wins."
What has clearly worked for Peter-McNeilly this season is MHP Riesen. He's playing for John Patrick, a veteran coach in the Bundesliga and one that the Canadian says is making him better.
"Amazing coach," he said. "Defensively he's a genius. My short time there, he has taught me so much. I take pride in my defense and I was all ears.
"He's so hungry to win. Every single day he takes it serious. Every day we get to the gym, we're going to get better and we're going to do a lot of film, and a lot of research to help us win the next game."
Patrick is Peter-McNeilly's coach at MHP Riesen
MHP Riesen are third in the domestic standings. They are also set to compete in the Basketball Champions League Play-Offs Round of 16 against against another German side, EWE Baskets Oldenburg. Peter-McNeilly is enjoying the European competition.
"Anytime you can travel the world and play basketball at the highest level, it's very exciting for me," Peter-McNeilly said. "I wake up every day playing the game I love at a very high level with people who also love the game and share a common goal of winning basketball games and hopefully getting well known."
For a player that didn't know if he'd even have a pro career, Peter-McNeilly is excelling. MHP Riesen have been reaping the benefits of having him onboard and Canada are confident they will, too.