CAN - Canadian game speaking a different language thanks to Desrosiers
DUBAI (FIBA U17 World Championship) - Don't be surprised if Canadian basketball starts to sound more different in the near future. And it's thanks to guys like Jerome Desrosiers at the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship.
"Sometimes my teammates laugh about my accent because it's from Montreal and I speak French. But it's fine. I like it," admitted the 1.98m forward, the only player on Canada's roster who is not from the province of Ontario, hailing instead from Montreal and the province of Quebec.
"We don't look at it like that. Everybody's Canadian on the team. They don't talk about me being from Quebec."
Still, having a strong leader on the Canadian team from outside of Ontario in general and the hotbed of Toronto in specific is very positive for the national team's program.
"Quebec basketball has the potential to be our next area where basketball is going to explode. So many athletes and kids who are playing basketball," said Canada coach Dave DeAveiro.
"Jerome is like the prodigal son for Quebec because he's the only guy from there. So he's representing his province and he's doing it as a leader in this group. But we still have to explore and develop Quebec."
Desrosiers isn't the only Quebec player to play for Canada at youth tournaments.
At the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship, Kevin Zabo and Patrick Steeves were both from Quebec - as the only two players not from Ontario. At the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship, Joe De Ciman and Trey Lyles were both from Saskatchewan while Manroop Clair was born and raised in Vancouver.
"It's important to get the next province, but it's also important to get the whole country. There are so many kids playing basketball across Canada because of the influence of the NBA and our kids doing well in Division 1 colleges in the United States. More and more kids are playing and have a dream of playing in the NBA," added DeAveiro.
When asked about other Quebec players to watch for the future, Desrosiers mentioned Daniel Levitt, Joseph Chartouny and Kenny Chery. He also brought up Joel Anthony, who won two NBA titles with the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013.
"Joel Anthony's from Montreal. He made it, anybody can make it," he said.
A big help in Desrosiers pushing so hard to have the success he has already had is his relationship with his brother Philippe, who is two years older and is a strong ice hockey talent that was drafted by the Dallas Stars in the 2013 NHL draft.
"He's a friend. He shows me how to compete all day and how to work hard and not take breaks. When we play against each other, we're really competitive and we want to win. He might be better at something but I still want to win. He shows me that we just really want to compete every day," said Desrosiers.
When asked how a Canadian with a brother who is a hockey player could end up playing hoops, Desrosiers said: "When we were younger, I was always in the ice rink watching him and I don't know if I got sick of it, but I wanted to try something else. And I was taller than him and I tried basketball. And it worked out."
The Desrosiers brothers' competitive spirit often sends them out to the court in the summer for a game of 21 or the ice rink in the winter.
So who is better at the other sport?
"I am closer to beating him (in hockey). He's getting better (at basketball). I'm showing him some ways to shoot the ball. But I think I can beat him in hockey. It's in my veins."
Slowly basketball is creeping into the veins of all Canadians as well - even those out of Ontario thanks to guys like Desrosiers.