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Blazers assistant has an eye on Canada

LAS VEGAS — Jay Triano is paying attention to the Trail Blazers during the Las Vegas Summer League, but his eyes are watching a lot of other players, too.

Terry Stotts' right-hand man on the Portland coach staff is in his second tour of duty as head coach with Team Canada, and Triano has plenty of his forces spread out through the 24-team summer league here.

Is this the best basketball talent Canada has ever produced?

"Absolutely," Triano says. "There used to be one or two Canadians in the NBA. I think we have 12 here at summer league."

Triano, 55, has been close to the Canadian national team since his playing days. He was a national team member from 1977-88 and captain the last dozen years, participating in the Olympic Games in 1984 and '88. Triano coached the national team from 1998-2003 and was rehired in August 2012, a week after being named as an assistant for Stotts.

The man who hired him was Steve Nash, the two-time NBA most valuable player who played for Triano in the 2000 Olympic Games.

"Steve is in constant communication with our players," Triano says. "His career took off by playing in the Olympics in 2000. He is big about representing Canada."

Among the rookies here are No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins (Cleveland), Nik Stauskas (Sacramento) and Tyler Ennis (Phoenix). The No. 1 draft pick in 2013, Anthony Bennett (Cleveland), is also here.

The Canadian team roster also includes such players as Andrew Nicholson (Orlando), Cory Joseph (San Antonio), Tristan Thompson (Cleveland), Kelly Olynik (Boston) and Robert Sacre. Triano expects most of them to represent their country in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

"We have a lot of great players, but they're young and it's tough for them right now," Triano says. "They're learning the NBA game. The challenge we have the next couple of years is to teach them the international game."

Following the Vegas Summer League, the Canadian team will convene for a three-day training camp in Toronto, then head for Europe and a nine-game exhibition tour.

"It's important because they'll be together, learning our system and learning how to play with each other," Triano says. "I'm looking forward to it."

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