As practice at day two of camp for the Senior Men’s National team who is heading to the FIBA AmeriCup later this week was wrapping up on Sunday afternoon, Manny Diressa looked on and followed the action from the bench as 10 others on the floor worked through live game situations.
While some may have seen that as a negative sign of Diressa’s chances to crack the 12 man roster, the soon-to-be senior Ryerson Rams guard has as good a shot as anyone to represent his country in the program’s first step to qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, due in large part to Roy Rana being the man at the helm for the upcoming AmeriCup.
“Diressa will be in training camp; I’m hoping Diressa makes the team, I’m a damn big Diressa fan, of course he’s my own guy,” said Rana in an interview late last week. “There will be a U SPORT [sic] connection for sure, we have some guys playing FISU right now, that if they weren’t playing FISU might be in training camp.”
This is far from Diressa’s first chance to compete against NBA and professional level players, as he is a veteran of Crown League & OVO Bounce summers, and has garnered respect from teammates ranging from Stanley Johnson to Brandon Jennings.
“I mean yeah, that makes it more like realistic [sic] I’ll make this team, because I’ve played against these guys (at Crown & OVO) before it makes me less nervous and stuff like that,” said Diressa on how his summer has made the transition to camp easier as practice broke. “I feel good, I feel comfortable. Everyone is giving me confidence and I feel like I’m doing okay, so I feel like my chances are good.”
One of those giving Manny confidence is Windsor Express forward Warren Ward, who has a similar background, as he was once the go-to guy for the Ottawa Gee-Gees before embarking on his professional career in the NBL.
“I mean if you’ve watched him play I think everyone knows he can flat out hoop. He’s a big guard, he’s very strong and he’s young. He just needs to learn and be a sponge, listen to these coaches, and the old guys like myself. We’ll give him pointers wherever we can. He’s quiet, he’s very humble, he doesn’t need much guidance. I think he has a pro mind already,” said Ward of Diressa’s approach to camp.
On Tuesday afternoon, Canada Basketball announced the final 12-man roster for the AmeriCup and listed fifth on the table was his name, right there in writing: “Ammanuel Diressa, Guard, 6’5, Toronto, Ontario, Ryerson University”. The first player in recent memory currently enrolled at a Canadian institution to make a senior men’s team. Diressa now has yet another accolade to tack onto his rapidly growing basketball resume.
How much game action there is for the potential U SPORTS scoring champ in South America next week remains to be seen, as the competition on the wing for minutes will surely be fierce with the way the roster has been constructed. Sharpshooters Brady Heslip and Olivier Hanlan, as well as New York Knicks training camp-invitee, Xavier Rathan-Mayes would be the best guess to grab the lion’s share of the minutes, but with his ability to defend multiple positions and put the ball in the hole, nobody should be shocked if he finds himself playing meaningful minutes by next week’s end.
“I don’t think anybody in the country who evaluates basketball at a high level does not believe that there is talent in U SPORT [sic] who can help us, including myself and Coach Triano, so yeah certainly if there’s a player who we think has a got a chance, he’s gonna get a good look,” said Rana of the talent at the U SPORTS level.
In his first foray as the head man of the senior men’s program, and his own guy on the roster, we’ll get to see if those beliefs hold true once the ball is tipped.