By Curtis Rafter
Carleton Ravens legend Phil Scrubb came to play in his homecoming with Canada’s national team, leading his squad to a 99 to 69 victory over the U.S. Virgin Islands at TD Place on July 2nd.
Scrubb’s 14 points tied the Miami Heat’s Kelly Olynyk total for the team Canada lead, but it was the five-time national champion’s effort and energy that set him apart.
Despite a sparse holiday-Monday crowd, Scrubb received resounding applause when he first subbed into the game with 2:10 left in the first quarter. He forced a shot clock violation shortly after with quick and harassing defence, helping Canada close out the quarter on top 20-16.
Scrubb got going in the second quarter by nailing a quick jumper, hitting a few free throws, then knocking down a three pointer, all within a two-minute span. He kept up his performance and Canada began to pull away with the game, up 12 heading into the half.
The third quarter was more of the same as Scrubb kept contributing and Canada kept increasing its lead. The Virgin Islands were never able to string together a run and the game was all but over for the Caribbean territory heading into the fourth.
Coach Jay Triano was highly complementary of Scrubb’s performance, telling the Ottawa Sportspage some of the lesser known ways that Scrubb helps his team.
Guys like Scrubb, “understand the international game and they teach it to the NBA players (when they join the roster),” Triano explained.
Little things like, “what you can get away with,” and how a, “technical foul counts as a personal,” under international rules, he added.
At only 25-years-old, Scrubb already has a significant amount of international experience under his belt.
He’s represented various iterations of Canada’s national team since 2010, plus he’s currently dominant as a scorer for the Fraport Skyliners in Germany’s Basketball Bundesliga (BBL). In fact, Scrubb received the BBL Best Offensive Player award for the 18.3 points per game he averaged this season.
In spite of his international experience and accolades, Scrubb praised his NBA teammates postgame and acknowledged how they help elevate his game.
Canadian NBA players like Olynyk, Cory Joseph, and Dillon Brooks, “are really talented,” he said.
“It kinda makes my job a lot easier. I kinda just gotta work hard and I get a lot of open looks so I just gotta knock them down. It takes a lot of pressure off me. It’s fun playing with those guys,” Scrubb admitted.
With this win against the Virgin Islands, Canada successfully nabbed the top spot in Group D of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers with a record of five wins and one loss.
Their record and point differential will carry over to the next round of the tourney which will be played between Sept. 13 and 17, Nov. 29 and Dec. 3, as well as Feb. 21 and 25.
The FIBA World Cup will be played in China in September 2019. It is the main qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which Canada’s men’s team has been snubbed from since 2000.