VANCOUVER, B.C. — Back at the end of November, basketball in Canada was given another boost on the international stage with the announcement of the inaugural VanCity Showcase that was set to take place on March 18th, 2017.
The game was to feature two of the top prep teams in North America, one each from Canada and the United States. The national powerhouse program known as Prolific Prep (Napa, CA) was set to make the trip north of the border to take on the Orangeville Prep Bears (Orangeville, Ont.) inside the historic UBC War Memorial Gymnasium.
However, with the recent travel ban issued by President Donald Trump, concerns grew surrounding the international players on the roster at Prolific Prep.
On Monday afternoon, those concerns were addressed, and the game was relocated due to the uncertainty surrounding the ban.
While the game will still be played on March 18th, 2017, the location will no longer be Vancouver. The game has been moved to Sacramento, CA, and the event is now known as the ‘CALI vs. Canada Showdown.’
The event location in Sacramento has yet to be determined.
“As a program with 8 different countries and with the uncertainties of our new and current administration in Washington DC as it pertains to foreign policy, we feel it is prudent to evaluate and wait for some of these new policies to either be upheld or dissolved by the higher courts in our country, and make decisions after these policies are entrenched in stone,” said Phil Doherty, the Director of Operations at Prolific Prep, in a statement posted on the CALI vs. Canada Showdown Facebook page.
“At this current moment we do not want to subject our kids to uncertainties and constantly changing foreign policies, so we are going to wait until we get more clarity on the new proposed legislations by this current administration on Capital Hill.”
Outside of Canada and the United States, Prolific Prep have several other countries represented on their official roster. Some of those players include Sekou Toure (’18, Ghana), Brown Eyisi (’18, Nigeria), Amadou Sow (’18, Mali), Nathan Mensah (’18, Ghana), and Oton Jankovic (’19, Croatia).
With the relocation of the game, the effects are being felt by both teams. Player safety amidst the uncertainties surrounding the ban is the top priority, but its hard not to feel for the players of Orangeville Prep, who were looking forward to showcasing their talents in front of a new audience in Canada.
Guard Miguel Tomley and forward James Karnik are from Surrey, B.C., and were expected to have a plethora of friends and family in attendance in Vancouver for the inaugural event. With the event being moved south of the border, it’s unclear as to how many friends and family will be able to attend the game for any member of the Bears.
Despite the relocation of the game, it is still another massive step in the growth of basketball in Canada. Having arguably the top prep team in Canada square off with a perennial powerhouse program in the USA is a big testament to the talent level in the country.
As the logistics surrounding the ban get worked out, here’s to hoping that the game can return to Canada in the second year. This could also lead to some sort of a series in the event, where each country takes turns hosting the event.
Regardless of the changes, one thing remains certain. There will be a ton of talent on display at the event, and fans will be treated to some fantastic basketball that features some of the brightest stars that both countries have to offer.
– T. Bennett