Hoop dreams: Van Koughnett competing in international basketball tourney

He’s on fire!

Sean Van Koughnett — McMaster’s associate vice-president, students and learning, and dean of students — is playing in the 2015 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) 3×3 World Tour Master Competition.

The tourney tipped-off Wednesday in Mexico City.

Three Canadian teams are participating in the competition, representing the greater Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Ottawa areas. Van Koughnett is a member of the Ottawa-based squad.

Other teams in the competition hail from Brazil, Mexico, the United States, Guatemala and Puerto Rico.

He told the Daily News that playing for a Canadian club is a major honour — especially given the length of his amateur athletic career.

“Competing in an international tournament is a huge opportunity for me at the age of 44,” says Van Koughnett.

“I’ve put a focus on physical fitness throughout my life and have been working with Steve Lidstone, McMaster’s strength and conditioning coordinator, for the past year. Without him I wouldn’t be here.”

The biggest adjustment in Mexico City, he explains, is running full-speed on a court that lies thousands of feet above see level. “You get winded very quickly,” he offers.

The Ottawa team lost the first game to last year’s world finals runner-up, Saskatoon, but won their second game against a Mexican team.

International competition is hardly new for Van Koughnett. This year marks the fourth decade he’s represented Canada in one form or another.

He first donned a Team Canada jersey with the junior national team in 1989, and remained with the program throughout the early-1990s.

The 6’6″ powerhouse narrowly missed joining the 2000 Canadian’s men’s Olympic basketball team. He suited-up for the national club the following year, during an exhibition tour.

He’s currently ranked at number 1,513 among all global 3×3 players.

The top two teams from the Mexico City tournament will qualify for the FIBA 3×3 World Tour Final, which takes place in Abu Dhabi in October.

Van Koughnett hasn’t spent the entire trip in sneakers and mesh shorts.

The 2015 FIBA Americas Championship is taking place simultaneously in Mexico, and Van Koughnett received tickets from two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash to watch the host country battle Canada on Sept. 8 — a game the Canucks won 94-73.

The top teams from the Americas Championship will qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.

This article was initially published at dailynews.mcrmaste

 

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